Sunday, July 28, 2013

Crimson Shadows - Sails of Destiny

Full disclosure: I’m a huge Crimson Shadows fanboy. I’ve seen them live more than any other band, and I’ve been listening to them pretty much non-stop since 2008. It was no surprise to me that they won the Wacken Metal Battle Canada this year because they have an extremely unique sound that has yet to be done by another band. Combine that killer musicianship and a great live performance, and you have one of the best bands around today. As you might expect, I’ve been anticipating their newest EP, “Sails of Destiny”, for quite a while now, and it does not disappoint!

Musically, “Sails of Destiny” retains all of the bands hallmarks. Every track features plenty of harmonized leads and shredding from Greg Rounding and Ryan Hofing. Though the amount of shredding might have declined (two of these tracks are sub-6 minutes), the quality has not. Jimi Maltais’ growls are somehow even deeper than before, yet he still manages to hit high screams. The clean vocals of Rounding have returned, but they have improved substantially. His singing is at the point where he could easily front a power metal band and it would be completely brilliant. In fact, I would say the improvement in his vocals is the highlight of the EP for me. Given the speed and intensity of the music, some serious drumming is required, and Cory Hofing more than delivers. You would expect a death metal band to utilize double bass and blast beats, which Crimson Shadows does, but it is the variation in the drumming that makes Hofing’s work more interesting than other drummers’ playing. Finally, I have to credit Morgan Rider for making me notice the bass playing for the first time in this band. There is a bass solo in “Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides” that will blow your mind, especially once you realize that he plays with his fingers, rather than a pick.

The three songs on “Sails of Destiny” are a different beast from the preceding album and EP. For one thing, there’s a nine-minute epic here. “Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides” takes you on a serious journey, before an ending lead fades out the song and the EP. This was the most difficult track for me to get into, not because of the length, but because of the chorus. The clean vocal melodies used, combined with the gang vocals that show up were a bit different for the band, but after several listens, this section reveals that it has a lot of emotion in it. The gang vocals make it sound like a band united, ready to fight against some sort of demonic foe. The single, “Maiden’s Call”, is the most standard song for the band on this release, but that is not a bad thing, as they have pretty much perfected their sound at this point. There are no real surprises on this song, except for one incredibly heavy section towards the end of each verse. Calling it a breakdown would be a misnomer, but the entire feel of the music changes for this short moment that causes unavoidable headbanging. Finally, there is the opener, “Freedom and Salvation”, which is my favourite song. The first melody that hits you in this song is likely to become stuck in your head for days, and is the driving force behind this great song. At 5 minutes, it is one of the shortest songs the band has recorded, but it gets its point across quite quickly, before leading you into the rest of this brilliant EP. 

If you haven’t heard Crimson Shadows before, “Sails of Destiny” is a great place to start. It is a succinct summary of the band’s work (though no replacement for hearing the debut album or first EP) that shows them continuing to evolve and develop as both musicians and songwriters. This EP should appeal to fans of both power and death metal, and even if melody in metal isn’t your thing, I would still give this a shot anyways, as it is one of the best and most unique releases I have heard.

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"Freedom And Salvation"
"Maiden's Call"
"Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides"

Final Rating
4.7/5 or 94%. 

Written by Scott