Just like the self-titled debut from 1986, CRIMSON GLORY’s second album “Transcendence” (1988) also has been re-released by Poland’s Metal Mind Records, also in a very nice DigiPak and a golden CD, limited to 2000 copies and with one bonus track, so the limitation is the only real reason that should stop you from getting this.
“Transcendence” is the logical continuation of the debut, with the Melodic/Power Metal of the Americans laced with progressive interludes further refined and being a worthy follow-up to one of the all-time classics. All of the trademarks were still there, ’s high, yet powerful vocals, Jon Drenning’s guitar work and the almost palpable atmosphere that put the band head and shoulders over most of their contemporaries.
And just like with the predecessor, the sum of all parts is exponentially larger than I could ever put into words, beginning with the “Lady Of Winter”, which almost playfully jumps from a somewhat progressive verse into an ultra-catchy and melodic chorus that will caress your ears, before “Red Sharks” unleashes a guitar melody that is up there with the best ever created. The songs also showcases a slightly more aggressive side of CRIMSON GLORY (as you can see, this playing with opposites returns, just on a different level), while maintaining this grand atmosphere showing the true class of this band. And delivers a sweeping performance, climbing the octaves, but not just for the sake of hitting these high notes, but actually keeping a melodic purpose that set him apart from many of his peers, who tried similar vocal acrobatics.
Once more I could basically just list every single song and praise them to death, be it the power of the ballad “Painted Skies” (with maybe Midnight’s most inspired vocal performance ever) or the intense “In Dark Places” (one of my personal favourites of CRIMSON GLORY), but just like with the debut, this album is hit after hit and even though there is a generous amount of keyboards to be found on this disc, they never take over the song(s), but only enhance them and add this mystic quality that makes these great songs even better.
People always talk about originality and whatnot, you can take ANY song off the first two CRIMSON GLORY CDs and you can instantly recognize it as CRIMSON GLORY and nobody else, even though many bands tried after, none managed to reach this band’s two first efforts, not even 22 and 20 years after the original release, having inspired countless bands and musicians and unfortunately having come to an untimely and in many ways rather odd ending that hurt the legacy as a band, but these two milestones of Metal stand untouched and unreached and one can only wonder, if they might not ultimately led to the demise of this band, breaking apart under the expectations and pressure... No matter how you look at it, though, if your collection does not contain this CD (and/or the debut), you cannot call it complete!