Even though already founded in 1992 and having four albums under their belt, Borås-based band CRYSTAL EYES remain on the fringe of anonymity in both the Swedish and international Metal scene. The only rise to prominence was in 2005, when former LOST HORIZON fronter Daniel Heiman joined the band for the recordings of their “Confessions Of The Maker” album, which in turn received pretty mediocre reviews.
So the band went out to find a new singer again and found Danish singer Søren Nico Adamsen in Dutch band STARRATS, both of which I had never heard of before, and is giving it another try with “Dead City Dreaming”. Now I know the first two albums, while the following two albums didn’t make it into my collection, but this album does not really sound like the old CRYSTAL EYES I remembered, so they seem to have changed their musical direction a little, now providing us with a healthy mix of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, with stronger, more expressive vocals than before, so not a bad thing, I would say.
And on this, their fifth, album the guys around Mikael Dahl show an uncanny ability to keep their songs immensely catchy and accessible, but without making them seem nursery rhyme like and too “happy”, a problem many bands of this style seem to run into. The opening title track (yes, no intro!) is a very good example for this, powerful riffing, deeper vocals, a very catchy chorus, but no big bombastic choir-like, but far more down to earth, like the whole song is, and the increased Hard Rock influence definitely adds to this song. And this intertwining of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal gives the Swedes’ sound a somewhat more mature quality, which is very welcome and should give CRYSTAL EYES a lot more attention, as the quality of their song material is higher than ever!
They have not completely denounced their Power Metallic past, as the very jaunty “The Narrow Mind”, the pretty heavy “Battlefield” or “Dawn Dancer” prove, but that does not change anything in the band sounding more mature, without losing an ounce of their immense catchiness in the choruses, which will have you sing or at least hum along almost at first listen, but the good thing is that they do not wear off as easily as in the past. Also a slow song such as “Wall Of Stars” is performed well and at the end Mikael Dahl returns to the microphone one more time (showing that since I had heard him last, he had definitely improved his voice!) with the excellent “The Halls Of Valhalla”, which is a mix of slow-paced, epic hymn with great chorus and a faster eruption in the middle.
A very nice change of pace compared to the past, which should give CRYSTAL EYES a much needed boost and might also bring them new fans, “Dead City Dreaming” without a doubt is the best album this Swedish band has ever released!
(Online November 16, 2006)