What does it say that I have had this album for 15 years and still listen to it about once every few weeks? CRIMSON GLORY are revered in the underground as one of the greats from the 80s, and this CD makes it easy to understand why, as this is one of the best three Power Metal albums of all time. (The other two being QUEENSRYCHE's "Operation: Mindcrime" and LOST HORIZON's "A Flame To The Ground Beneath")
After their little-heard debut (which got no US distribution at all) CG needed a big release to finally conquer their homeland. Armed with a Roadrunner contract in one hand and some of the finest Metal ever written in the other, these Floridians proceeded to do just that. With "Transcendence" CRIMSON GLORY went from cult band to legend in one step. Combining the twin-axe harmonies of IRON MAIDEN with the melodic grace of QUEENSRYCHE and adding a good dose of US crunch CG created a sound that was as hard-hitting as it was beautiful, a sound distinctly their own which no one else has ever really been able to duplicate. John Drenning was and remains one of Metal's most unique axe-slingers, with a distinct lead style and tone that is unmistakable. Another big part of the CRIMSON GLORY sound was Jeff Lords on bass, whose intricate bass lines always gave the music a swagger and groove most Metal bands just don't have. The real star of the CG show, however, was the legendary voice of frontman Midnight. As much an enigma now as he was decades ago, he owns every song with his pure steel voice. Yeah, he can hit the highs, a lot of Metal singers can hit the highs, but no one has ever had that razor-edge silver and silk tone. The only singer to ever compare to Midnight is LOST HORIZON's Daniel Heiman, and that is saying something my friends.
I wrote out the tracklist on this one from memory, as if I could forget a single tune. Rarely, if ever, has there been such an assembly of absolutely awesome pure Metal song writing on one disc. From the opening riff of "Lady Of Winter" this is a display of total Metal mastery. There are headlong power tunes like "Mask Of The Red Death" and the mind-blowing "Eternal World", there are mellow ballad-esque songs like "Burning Bridges" and the radio-friendly "Lonely". And there are those signature pounding, mystical cuts like "Where Dragons Rule" or the awesome "In Dark Places" - the best song John Drenning ever wrote. These are some of the best Metal songs ever recorded, and you won't want to miss even one.
This is a classic, mandatory album and no Metalhead's collection can be complete without it. One of the best Melodic Metal albums of the 80s or any decade, and a landmark that has inspired countless other bands, "Transcendence" sounds as good now as it did when it was released in 1988. This is a flawless album from an amazing band at the peak of their powers, and one long overdue for a quality reissue. If you don't have it, get it. If you have it, get it out and play it to remind yourself of just how cool it is. (Online November 5, 2003)