Released: 2005, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Released in 1999, IN THE BEGINNING launched the Swiss act Crystal Ball’s career and that album resulted in several support act tours for the band. They have been the opening act to Krokus, Dokken, U.D.O, Bonfire and Pretty Maids to name a few. The band signed on for Nuclear Blast in 2001 and has, besides TIMEWALKER, also released VIRTUAL EMPIRE and HELLVETICA on this label. That brings us to this new album which is their fifth one so far.
Believe it or not but TIMEWALKER is another of those theme albums that we’ve grown to love (?). The bio says that the album is a journey through different historical events and I have to believe them because I haven’t got any lyrics. However, the album is packed with 11 standard time-traveling tracks with nothing that really captures my ears. The whole album feels pretty standard and it’s OK but TIMEWALKER needs something extra, the album lacks spark, energy and high fuelled music. There’s so many bands, both great bands and common ones, in this genre so to make it in the power metal genre it really needs that you have something out of the ordinary to succeed, something that Crystal Ball doesn’t have.
The guys play melodic power metal with focus on melodic, the album is high on furious double bass and guitars, which is totally fine with me but then we have these infernal keyboards that makes the music sound even more melodic. As if that wasn’t enough, the band has added ballads called “He Came to Change the World”, “Walk through Time”, “The Eye of the Storm” and “Talking to the Walls”.
Even though all of the guys are great at what they do and the lead vocalist Mark has a nice voice for singing in a power metal band, it all falls on their lack of high class material.
The producer is the famous Stefan Kaufmann (Accept, U.D.O) and he has for the first time disappointed me as a producer. He has always done great productions but unfortunately he has failed with his mission this time and that’s probably because the band has the final word in the production and not Stefan. Stefan can do so much better production-wise. For example, Mark lies too high up in the mix compared to what the other guys in the band does.
Crystal Ball has a lot of things to work on before even thinking of entering the studio again. TIMEWALKER is not an album that I should invest my money in but if you’re a Crystal Ball fan it might be worth doing it. I have nothing against power metal in general but this is NO good at all.
This year the guys played at several festivals and are planning on heading out on a proper tour before the year ends.
The limited edition of TIMEWALKER contains a bonus track which is a cover of a famous pop song.
Killer tracks are “Digital World”, “Tear down the Wall” and “Powerflight”.
Also available at: http://www.soundpollution.de