- - - - - -

Crystal Viper - Possession

Crystal Viper – CD Review

Crystal Viper

CD Info
AFM Records
10 Tracks
English Lyrics

Traditional heavy metal has become a timeless sea in the ocean of metal music. The beautifully proportioned and gleaming Crystal Viper arises from that sea, standing proud in the swirling waves of change. This viper is not eroded by time. Occasionally, though, it flexes its crystalline coils to loop in the tastiest bits of other music that drift by.

If you play any track from an early Crystal Viper album, then play any track from their sparkling new Possession, you should note three key characteristics of their music. First, whichever track you select will be good. Second, the band as it was then sounds very much as it sounds now. And third, the band of 2014 has masterfully added tantalizing passages of other metal without detracting in any way from the style that its fans know and love.

Heavy metal has been truer to itself, and for longer, than almost any genre in any form of modern music. The extraordinary legacy handed down by the monster bands of the early 1980s is the continuing power of old-style heavy metal to win followers across the generations. It owns fans who include grandparents like me, mature and sensible adults like you, dear reader, and young teenagers who first discover the depths of satisfaction and exhilaration that the genre has been giving some of us for more than three decades.

In their six-year recording career, Crystal Viper have been as true to their fans as heavy metal itself. The core structure of their music is those magnetic, thumping riffs, the pulse-pounding drum and bass, complex but stirringly beautiful guitar solos, and unfaltering vocals that span across multiple octaves.

Possession is the fifth studio album by Crystal Viper, the brainchild of singer, guitarist and composer Marta Gabriel. She’s known to her fans as Leather Wych. She formed the band in Poland in 2003. They quickly established themselves as one of the most talented bands in Europe, and also one of the most hard-working. They’ve performed at numerous festivals across the continent, including Bang Your Head, Keep It True, Sabaton Open Air - Rockstad Falun, Metal Magic Festival, Headbangers Open Air and the Magic Circle Festival. If you want to work with Leather Marta, you’d better eat all your vegetables and take vitamin supplements as well. She’ll keep you on the hop.

Possession is also Crystal Viper’s first concept album. It has a dark, cynical and literally haunting theme. This approach enabled Marta to compose thought-provoking songs in different moods and tempos, each one tailored to fit the story of the song down to the last semi-quaver. The overall result is a musical journey into the depths of the human soul and beyond.

There are innovations and some really charming touches on this album. The innovations come in the form of guest singers and the weaving of black and doom metal into the compositions. And the band will certainly charm the 50 or so fans whose voices are heard in brief snatches on various tracks. Crystal Viper invited fans to submit recordings of themselves screaming, then selected about 50 snippets to weave into the musical narrative. I can picture some ancient geezer playing this album for his grandkids 50 years from now and beaming, “That’s me, third voice in the chant from the Gates of Hell at the end of Track 6!”

The album starts with a short instrumental intro in symphonic cinematic style, setting the scene for the story to come. Then it explodes immediately into those oh-so-lovely heavy metal riffs and Marta’s in-your-face vocals. This lady sure knows how to adjust her voice to match the mood. I sure would hate her to scold me, although I’d enjoy the sound.

Satania, from the band Desaster, joins Marta on vocals on Track 3, “Julia Is Possessed”. The combination of her clean vocals and the alternating dark growling create a scintillating dialog. On the next track, “Fight Evil With Evil”, the guest singer is the seasoned Harry Conklin, who fronted Jag Panzer, Titan’s Force and Satan’s Host. He harmonizes with his old-school, clean vocals.

The last song in the story, “Prophet Of The End”, is the one that pays the main tribute to melodic black metal. Maybe Crystal Viper have invented a new sub-genre of black heavy metal. It works darned well.

In typical fashion, the band adds a bonus cover song saluting one of the pioneering heavy metal bands. On Possession the salute is to Riot and their 1988 “Thundersteel”. Play the Crystal Viper and Riot versions back-to-back and you should agree that the cover totally respects the original.

I looked for something to criticize. The closest I could get was to note that the English lyrics could have used a little sub-editing. And how much does that matter? This much. Look again. See that dot at the end of the past sentence? That much.

Based on my thorough enjoyment of the album, the likelihood that I’ll be playing it often and the probability that I’d want to play it in years to come, I have to give Crystal Viper full marks for this one.

Let me add a footnote. I hope the band won’t mind. If you get the digital version and it doesn't come with the album lyrics, you can see all the words here.

Score: 10 / 10

Official website 

Band’s Facebook