Crimson Shadows - Kings Among Men - (8.5/10)
Published on August 26, 2014
Toronto’s Crimson Shadows made quite some waves when they won the Wacken Metal Battle last year and subsequently got a deal with Napalm Records, resulting in this, their second full-length album, Kings Among Men. If you want to put the Canadians’ style into a nutshell, you take power metal and melodic death metal, mash them together and voila, you have Crimson Shadows.
Obviously you should not just put things down by the numbers, because otherwise you could just easily lump them into the ever growing family of Children of Bodom, Norther, Throne of Chaos and on and on and on, but Crimson Shadows actually have a lot more to offer than just the regurgitation of what already has been done to death. For one, they integrate pretty good clear vocals into their mix instead of just taking power metal and putting growls over them, for the other they don’t just have some dazzling displays of guitar wizardry, but also tons of energy and dynamics that just rush by, grab you and take you with them.
While operating a lot in the higher tempos, thus creating the energy, Crimson Shadows vary the tempo enough to add the dynamics to the mix and keep things from getting one-note. That is not to say that the energetic 1-2 punch of “Rise to Power” and “Heroes Among Us” is not kicking serious ass with highly melodic leads, good growls and also good accentuating clear vocals. The guitar work of Ryan Hofing and Greg Rounding is furious and at times almost dizzying, but within these fireworks they pack some seriously good riffs and leads and never lose themselves in self-gratifying noodling, while Morgan Rider’s bass also stands strong in the sound and definitely makes its presence heard.
With the production values out of the way, two more songs stand out on Kings Among Men, which are epic “Braving the Storm”, which alternates between sluggish mid-tempo and full double-bass and shows the maybe best interplay between the two vocal styles and “Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides”, a 10+ minute epic that closes the album in style, with a dizzying display of guitars, and despite its length stays entertaining and dynamic throughout.
With Kings Among Men Crimson Shadows should be able to escape the dreaded accusation of just being yet another clone of the originators of this style, showing a remarkable talent for dynamics born out of tremendous energy generated throughout the album, spiced up with great melodies and topped off with a dual vocal approach that brings an extra dimension to their sound. If you need energy, look no further than this Canadian powerhouse!