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Crimson Blue - The Angelic Performance

CD Review: Crimson Blue
The Angelic Performance

Crimson Blue



CD Info
My Kingdom Music
10 Tracks
English Lyrics

Sometimes a release come across my desk that renders me a little bit speechless.  People who know me well might be surprised that anything would render a Chatty Cathy and opinionated personality like me speechless, but yes, from time to time, it does happen.  Such was the case with Moscow, Russia natives Crimson Blue, who in November released their second full-length CD entitled The Angelic Performance.  I can honestly say I've never heard anything quite like it before, and it kind of blew my mind.  I offered to review it after having someone recommend it to me, and now I find myself strangely unable to articulate how I feel about the album, other than to say something completely lame like, "I love it."

And I do love it.  It's unique in ways I'm going to have a hard time describing to you, but I'm going to do my damnedest to try.

First of all, let's talk about labels for a minute.  The band's Facebook page states that they label themselves as "new art metal."  I have never heard of that before, but I can say that this is definitely not nu metal as we all might understand it (as it this is most definitely not Linkin Park-ish in any way, shape, or form), and I don't really know what "art metal" is.  Personally, if I had to label what Crimson Blue is doing here, I'd be calling it modern progressive metal, or something along very proggy lines.  But in the end, who cares about the label; they are often debatable and in the end can be meaningless when the music is as good as what this band has produced in The Angelic Performance.

I'm going to try to describe Crimson Blue's style.  The song structures are prog-like, eschewing the typical verse-chorus-verse paradigm, and they songs each seem to take on a life of their own, going intuitively where they need to go rather than sticking to a preconceived formula.  Combined with the rich timbre of lead vocalist Dani's vox, we have heavy, but lower and darker guitar tuning, some often industrial-sounding sound effects, lots of muzzy sound distortion, all held together by complex drumming that leads the brigade in many tempo changes throughout the songs.  There isn't any real consistent pattern to the music; it kind of takes you on a sound journey all over the place, yet, as I mentioned earlier on in this paragraph, there is an intuitiveness to the music and the soundscapes it creates, so in the end it makes complete sense and is utterly satisfying to listen to. Keyboards are performed by Dani the singer, and their passages are generally kept in the lower parts of the musical scale, but are rich and gorgeously arranged.  There are some symphonic elements here and there as well, and those arrangements are simple but effective in helping to create the many moods and atmospheres this album provides.

There are 10 tracks on this album, and an hour of music.  There are a couple of pretty long songs; "Lab II Yggdrasil" clocks in at 9:12 minutes and the finale, "Black Wings" comes in at 11:18 minutes.  These two songs really stand out on the album, partially because of their length, but more so to do with how uniquely structured they are.  "Black Wings" is particularly fantastic; it's like a progression of several different tunes and atmospheres.  It's a definite tour de force, and "epic" is an apt term to describe it for sure.  It's a very exciting end to an exciting album.  "Lab II Yggdrasil", which is track seven, is an impressive song for similar reasons.  With its mixture of chaos and beauty, heavy riffing and lovely melodies, it's also a force to be reckoned with.

Other stand-out songs for me on this album were "3rd Eye Close", track three.  The vocal lines in it are beautiful as are the more acoustic-sounding guitars. The chorus is one of the best on the album, in fact, it's the stand-out chorus on the whole album because it's so powerful and there is a hook to it.  And this song is as close as Crimson Blue gets to the traditional song structure we're all used to; perhaps I liked it so much because of it's structural familiarity.  I don't know.  But it's a great tune that shows very well how the composers can create a progression of elements that build up into a goose bump-inducing climax.

Track four, "Sacrifiction", is another song I loved and that has a quality about it that has made the song really stick with me after several spins of the CD.  Again, you don't really know where this song is going to take you until you actually get there and experience the distinct sections of it.  The ballad "Road to Oblivion" also impressed me, with its simplicity and it's power.  Dani's voice is simply accompanied by the piano and some symphonic elements.  Her singing is rich and sensitive, and there are some very lovely vocal harmonies to feast your ears on as well.

The one challenge your typical metal listener might have with this album is that it's not radio friendly, and I can see the music contained in The Angelic Performance might sound too chaotic because the structures are all over the place.  This is metal for a more seasoned, progressively-orientated ear, not for someone just getting into the female fronted genre who might be scared away by the complexity of the compositions.  For people who love more avant gard stuff, and progressive metal, this is definitely a release to dig your teeth into.

What is pretty exciting for Crimson Blue is that they were selected to open for Tarja on the Eastern European leg of her Colours in the Road tour last fall.  That is certainly nothing to sneeze at!  Kudos to them for getting that pretty spiffy opportunity, and kudos to them also for producing an amazing album that temporarily rendered this rather talkative and opinionated reviewer wordless for a period of time.  That doesn't happen often!