Album Review: Kings Among Men by Crimson Shadows
Posted by RiffRaff
There are a few metal sub-genres that I’m pickier than a toddler at the dinner table with. Of the ones I am most picky with, Power Metal would probably take the cake. In my opinion, good Power Metal needs to have something I call the cheese factor (superfluousness, theatrics, high-flying-ness, not taking things too serious-ness, etc) balanced in the right place. Not enough cheese you end up with one of those sad solo Timo Tolkki records, too much and the band is just a parody of itself (Rhapsody of Fire excluded). Get it in the right and you end up with some of the greats like Helloween and Stratovarius. Now, to add to my pickiness, since I can go pop one of the already Ch-balanced records in any time I want, a new Power Metal band really has to do something unique and original to grab me by the shorty hairs and get me to pay attention. That’s the hard part and probably why I haven’t fallen for a new Power Metal band in quite some time now. Enter Canada’s Crimson Shadows and their major label debut and sophomore record Kings Among Men.
Effortlessly blending Death Metal and Power Metal, Crimson Shadows caught my attention with their debut Glory on the Battlefield. Unfortunately, while a pretty good record, it was a bit undercooked and ultimately didn’t get a ton of replays from me. Such is not the case with Kings Among Men. Now with a major label, a few bucks backing the production, and a lot of experience in performance and songwriting, they have crafted one of the most fun, engaging, and unique Power Metal records I’ve heard in ages.
Now before you scream “Children of Bodom already did the Power Metal/Death Metal thing!!” let me stop you right there and tell you this is quite the inverse of what CoB is doing. Whereas CoB tend to focus on the dark, Crimson Shadows take a more lighthearted approach. CoB focus on the Death Metal aspect of things, Crimson Shadows lean towards the Power Metal side. Really, the only thing the two bands have in common are the death growl vocals and freakin’ killer solos and riffs. CoB are angst, Crimson Shadows are happiness. If I had to choose one band to say these guys would be contemporaries with, it would probably go to Ensiferum.
So, enough with band comparisons, let’s talk about the kick ass music on Kings Among Men. This is a break-neck fast record. Each track barring the acoustic and symphonic interludes, blazes on with flurries of blast beats and speed metal riffs. What keeps things from getting dull and boring is the sheer amount of interesting stuff the band is doing on each track. From growly vocals over a run-away train rhythm to a swords-to-the-sky clean sung chorus to mind-boggling solos to layered in atmospheric keyboard work there is not one moment on this record where Crimson Shadows leave you bored. Just all-round fantastic songwriting paired with great performances by the musicians. The epic battles theme of the lyrics also heighten the listening pleasure as instead of focusing on the bloodshed, there is this overall victorious feel to each track. When I listen to it, I feel like I can overcome anything.
This is one of, in not the, most fun albums I’ve listened to this year. Filled with positive vibes, the perfect amount of cheese, and tons of blazing metal this will be a record that will get many, many more spins from me (seriously, this album has been getting non-stop play since I popped it in for a preview listen to see if it’s something I want to review). A true success story of a band that put its best foot forward and improved in every aspect of their musical capabilities, Kings Among Men is the feel-good hit of the year. I can only imagine what kind of force to reckon with they will become if they keep up this pace. Highly recommended!! Peace Love and Metal!!! 4.75/5
Kings Among Men will be released Sept. 1st, 2014 in the majority of the EU and Sept. 9th, 2014 in the US though Napalm Records. You can be a kick ass dude and give them a ‘like’ on Facebook to keep up with the album release and tour dates or go check out their official website. If you want to be a King Among Crimson Shadows, consider tossing them a few bucks to support their crowd-funding campaign to raise money so they can tour Europe.