Crystal Viper - Queen of the Witches - (9/10)
Published on March 22, 2017
Often heralded as Poland’s best heavy/power metal band, Crystal Viper surely have done a lot of things right in the past few years, up to stirring up quite some hype across the internet, not least thanks to front lady Marta Gabriel, who defies to submit to the paradigm of timid mouse or operatic fronter, but instead is the epitome of what usually is dubbed a “metal queen”, with leather and studs, a Flying V and vocal chords made out of leather. Queen of the Witches is the Katowice-based quartet’s sixth album and one that will further cement its status within the scene.
Where other bands ease the listener in with an intro, “The Witch is Back” greets the listener with an ear splitting scream that kicks off a bristling powerhouse of an opener, setting the pace nicely. Tracks like “Do or Die” with its nay-perfect balance between grit and melody, aggressive “Flames and Blood” or energetic thunderbolt “Rise of the Witch Queen” ensure that the energy level rarely subsides across Queen of the Witches and gives the listener plenty of bangable opportunities, whereas heavy, pounding “When the Sun Goes Down” gives Marta some of the best melody lines of the album.
Amongst all the sweat and leather permeating the area, two of Queen of the Witches strongest moments, though, come in the shape of the ballads, with “Trapped Behind” being a beautiful, calm piece, while “We Will Make it Last Forever” is a great duet with Saracen singer Steve Bettney. And speaking of legends, another legend of the NWoBHM is being paid homage to, with Grim Reaper’s “See You in Hell”, which is an adequate adaptation, but suffers a bit in comparison with the energy before.
Equipped with Bart Gabriel’s powerful production and adorned with a classic Marshall cover, Crystal Viper’s latest is a big step up from 2013’s Possession and sits them back on their rightful throne. Marta Gabriel, without trying to belittle her fellow musicians’ efforts here, proves her clout as bona fide metal queen once more, and the rest of the scene will have to beware of the viper…!