Many remember CRIMSON GLORY and how gloriously they fell from Metal prominence in the early 90s with that tribal drumming abomination, “Strange And Beautiful”, and close to as many likely remember the lackluster return of the band with a different singer in 1999 dubbed “Astronomic”. However, very few probably remember a short lived solo project by guitarist Ben Jackson known as PARISH, who released an album in the very midst of Metal’s demise that came much closer to the original CRIMSON GLORY sound than either of those two albums did. And while not a perfect homage to the original sound, “Envision” definitely suggests that Jackson was as much a factor in shaping the glory days of the band as Midnight was.
Although this is heavily influenced by the watered down commercialized format of slow groovy riffs and cleaner Rock singing, more than half of the songs on here definitely point towards a strong thematic similarity to material heard on “Transcendence”. It’s jaded a little bit by John David’s cleaner cut, Mike DiMeo (ex-RIOT, MASTERPLAN) sounding vocals and the lyrically mundane subjects of the songs, but even the vocal melodies sound like they were written for Midnight. Combined with a guitar sound that has the same mixture of crunch and depth as CRIMSON GLORY’S 80s albums and a solid rhythm section presence, at times you can almost picture some guy singing karaoke to old classics like “Eternal World” and “Painted Skies”, hitting all the notes yet not really emulating the character of the original singer.
Granted you’ve got some power ballad nonsense like “Forever”, and overly happy/groovy early 90s AOR stuff like “Summer” and “Believe In Me”, but for the most part this is a solid listen. One brief glimpse of that menacing intro riff on “Desert Wings” and you’ll all but expect Midnight’s high iron voice to shutter your ear drums like a plummeting skyscraper. The same basically goes for the equally evil sounding though less haunting lyrically speaking classics “Down And Dirty” and “Set The Night On Fire”, which all have that same mix of killer riffs and down tempo pacing that made the CRIMSON GLORY debut such a classic. “Rachel’s Eyes” and “Envision” are basically the exact same story, and David’s vocals actually attempt to imitate Midnight at times, although they don’t get nearly as dark and raunchy sounding. Even the ballad “Dark Desire”, which has a fair amount of Jeff Waters moments in it, reaches for that same gloomy darkness that made Jackson’s old band such a force to be reckoned with.
The really unfortunate thing is that because of when this album came out and how much attention was paid to CRIMSON GLORY’S previous blunders, this one time project has been all but forgotten. There’s only one member from said band on here, but what he accomplished on here far exceeds what the other 4 guys did a couple years before this was put together, as well as what 4 out of the 5 original guys did a few years after. Midnight’s absence on these songs is definitely felt when you hear them, but John David does the job well enough, in much the same way that Mike DiMeo did when performing Tony Moore’s material live with RIOT. If you’re searching for something aside from SHADOW KEEP’s two amazing tributes to one of the greatest bands in Metal history, this is cut from a mostly similar grain musically.
(Online December 15, 2008)