If you haven’t heard about them, CRIMSON SHADOWS is a high profile Canadian epic power/death metal band that won the International Battle for Wacken in 2013 and then signed to Napalm Records in early 2014. They’ve held up under an enormous amount of pressure and produced a chill-inspiring forty-nine minutes of heroic extreme metal. Taken on the words of a few friends and having seen CRIMSON SHADOWS live in early 2014, I’ve been waiting for my preorder bundle of Kings Among Men to arrive. Naturally, I jumped on the chance to review the album before the release date on September 9th.
The orchestral intro “March to Victory” was predictably epic. On first listen, I was not as enthusiastic about the single, “Rise to Power”, as I had hoped, which made me uncertain about how much I would enjoy the rest of the album; that is until the rest of the album kicked in.
“Heroes Among Us” gave me chills. The combination of harsh and clean vocals, the epic guitar riffs, the gun-fire drums and melodic bass all combined to lift the hairs on my arms and neck. The composition is tight and added effective pauses and decelerations without sacrificing the momentum of the track. This is why CRIMSON SHADOWS won the International Wacken.
I am not an epic power metal fan, but I can say without reservation that this album is beautifully executed. The chill factor did not relent for the rest of the album. The production was seamless. I want to make special notes that the bassist solos as awesomely as the guitarists. The harmonies and layered harsh and clean vocals raised goose-flesh. The percussion was certifiably insane and somehow, all the parts blended into a sum that is greater than its parts.
And if you were wondering about the lyrical content, have a gander at this heroic-themed track listing:
01 March of Victory (intro)
02 Rise to Power
03 Heroes Among Us
04 A Gathering of Kings
05 Maidens Call
06 Braving the Storm
07 On the Eve of Battle (intro)
08 Freedom and Salvation
09 Dawn of Vengeance
10 Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides
After a full listen, I went back to “Rise to Power” and discovered my initial lack of enthusiasm was a fluke. A different placement in the flow of the tracks might have caused a more favorable first reaction, but that is my only complaint. This may not be my favorite album of this year, but it is certainly one of the best albums of the year. I will wear my tee-shirt with pride.
CRIMSON SHADOWS are:
Jimi Maltais – Vocals
Ryan Hofing – Guitar
Greg Rounding – Guitar/ Vocals
Morgan Rider – Bass/ Backing Vocals
Cory Hofing – Drums
The band is headed for Europe with ALESTORM in September. Those of you lucky enough to live across the pond can get tickets HERE.
I.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. You can follow her personal blog at iokirkwood.com.