Crimson Glory


Crimson Glory

Crimson Glory - Crimson Glory ©1986 Roadrunner
1. Valhalla
2. Dragon Lady
3. Heart of Steel
4. Azrael
5. Mayday
6. Queen of the Masquerade
7. Angels of War
8. Lost Reflection

Firmly entrenched in the sound of 80s metal and armed with a goofy gimmick, Florida's Crimson Glory was unleashed upon the heavy metal world to the sound of crickets and indifference. The band's self titled debut was an obscure import title that I believe got considerably more attention in retrospect as people discovered their later material (1988's Transcendence, for instance). Crimson Glory, possible aware of the difficulty of garnering any attention based solely on musical output, opted to wear silly silver masks. These masks had no effect on the quality of their debut, but it did get them marginal attention.

The 1986 debut is a release that has not aged particularly well. The style and production instantly date it to 80s metal, particularly in the high pitched wailings of Midnight. The songwriting is fairly standard and uneventful. There are hints that this band had better material in them, but for the most part they go about their business in routine fashion, offering nothing that is particularly noteworthy. While the sound might have been relatively standard in 1986, it's somewhat difficult to sit through this album almost a quarter century later. Whereas their next effort would overcome its dated sound with exceptional songwriting, Crimson Glory had not yet developed to that point with their debut.

Listening to Crimson Glory is very much like finding a box of photos of yourself when you were fourteen. It makes you cringe.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2009

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Transcendence

Crimson Glory - Transcendence ©1989 Roadrunner/MCA
1. Lady Of Winter
2. Red Sharks
3. Painted Skies
4. Masque Of The Red Death
5. In Dark Places
6. Where Dragons Rule
7. Lonely
8. Burning Bridges
9. Eternal World
10. Transcendence

One of the best albums of 1989 was this excellent disc from the masked wonders Crimson Glory. Transcendence, though wrought with occasional metal trappings such as the high pitched vocals that made even Geoff Tate sound a bit low, was a hard hitting album that was filled with vivid imagery and strong emotional value. From the moving ballads (done properly, not like the radio friendly glam nonsense of the era) like "Painted Skies" or "Burning Bridges" to the more aggressive numbers like "Masque of the Red Death" (covering Poe territory, of course), the album took the listener for a true musical journey. Crimson Glory essentially filled the gap for those searching for a bit headier and heavier Queensryche. Due to the already mentioned powerful emotional quality, the second half the album is darned near perfect, elevating the listener into that precious realm where all that matters is the music at hand. Except for a couple bummers such as "Red Sharks", Transcendence is an evocative album that is simply mandatory for anyone who enjoys powerful metal to any degree.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1999

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Strange And Beautiful

Crimson Glory - Strange And Beautiful ©1991 Atlantic
1. Strange And Beautiful
2. Promise Land
3. Love And Dreams
4. The Chant
5. Dance On Fire
6. Song For Angels
7. In The Mood
8. Starchamber
9. Deep Inside Your Heart
10. Make You Love Me
11. Far Away

Entirely abandoning most of the stylistic elements that made them so wonderful on Transcendence, the new and "improved" Crimson Glory of '91 dived headfirst into a commercialized sound that not only alienated all their old fans, but shielded new fans from even possibly enjoying them. Naturally, the band vanished soonafter. They hint at some exotic elements, such as the tribalistic drumming that serves as an intro to "Promise Land", but it quickly extinguishes the concept for a very drab stab at glam metal. Other tracks, such as "The Chant", the wretched power ballad "Song for Angels", the nearly intolerable Kingdom Come-ish "Deep Inside Your Heart" and "Make You Love Me" (sounds like coersive behavior to me), are blatant attempts to cash in with the glam craze of the 80's, even though that particular scene was in its death knells at the time. From the terribly glammy back cover photo of the band wearing frilly clothing and displaying more chest than necessary to the schlock of the music, it's a darn shame Crimson Glory had to deviate from a truly remarkable and hopeful path to this decaying road of second rate music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Astronomica

Crimson Glory - Astronomica ©1999 Rising Sun Productions
CD one:
1. March To Glory
2. War Of The Worlds
3. New World Machine
4. Astronomica
5. Edge Of Forever
6. Touch The Sun
7. Lucifer's Hammer
8. The Other Side Of Midnight
9. Cyber-christ
10. Cydonia
CD two:
11. Painted Skies
12. Queen Of The Masquerade
13. Lost Reflection

It's hard to believe Crimson Glory took over a decade to finally record an appropriate follow up to their incredible classic from 1988, Transcendence. Oh sure, they did pull a Celtic Frost and record a pretty weak stab at a more glammy sound with Strange and Beautiful in 1991 but the band essentially wrote their own epitaph with that record.

Or did they?

Circulating like UFO rumors on the internet for a number of months that seemed more like years, word had it that the band had finally reformed to record a record that was effectively in the vein of what made them famous to begin with. The said record, Astronomica, apparently went through it's own epic adventure to even get recorded but did finally surface in late 1999. The band had obviously changed quite a bit over the course of a decade. Gone is Midnight as well as their drummer from Transcendence. Instead, band leader Jon Drenning recruited Steve Wacholz (Savatage) and new vocalist Wade Black to contribute to this futuristic piece of work. And the results?

Yes, it is effectively the proper follow up to Transcendence. But, it's far from a perfect record for a few reasons. Wade Black is often an out of control, shrill annoyance when he decides to forego appropriate melody for a biting high pitched screech that utterly undermines the music beneath him. When he's simply singing in a more normal tone, such as the nice melodies on "Touch the Sun" or "Edge of Forever", his voice is a strong replacement for Midnight. But as his very first scream on "War of the Worlds" demonstrates, he can be excruciating and detrimental to the overall effect of the music. If you can put that aside, the music itself is prime Crimson Glory, given ten years of natural growth. The band is still able to harness a slight exotic edge to their guitar lines and flow smoothly throughout their various moods, from the slower songs to the heavier ones. The music doesn't quite pack as strong of an emotional punch as their early days, but that could very well be the difference in me in my mid twenties listening to this sort of music as opposed to being sixteen. For the most part the songs are a bit too emotionally locked down and cerebral to really strike me on the same level as their older music.

If you can find a copy of a two disc digipack (limited to five thousand copies), you'll receive a three song live bonus disc from a Z-Rock show recorded in 1989. Here you'll revisit the band that once was with three classic songs. That in itself makes this new Crimson Glory worth having. Astronomica is a very good record, but flawed. Hopefully you didn't pin all your musical hopes on the record. Chances are this band will gel better next time around and create a stunning album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2000

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