Released: 2014, Napalm Records
It is always fun when starting to write a review to choose a theme or angle. In the case of reviewing KINGS AMONG MEN, the new album by Crimson Shadows, my immediate thought was to discuss the Wacken Metal Battle. Then I reconsidered thinking that the story has been told many times before, everybody knows it and that I should focus on the new album itself and not the past. In the end I decided that it is interesting enough to mention in case people don’t know the bands ‘back-story’.
Essentially in 2013 Crimson Shadows from Toronto, Canada won the Wacken Metal Battle, which is a global musical challenge with regional and national play-off rounds. The bands all play live at Wacken and a panel of industry experts declare a winner. The winner gets a recording contract. Last year, Crimson Shadows won the battle and while some previous winners (the Fading from Israel and Crysys from Spain) have faded into obscurity, other bands such Torture Squad, (Brazil), Steelcrusher (Israel), and Battle Beast (Germany) have gone onto have good international careers. Crimson Shadows has joined the elite and it is a source of pride for many to have your nations band beat dozens of other bands from around the world.
I believe Napalm Records stepped up to the plate after the band won the contest, which is actually appropriate because the Austrian based label has recognized the depth of unsigned Metal talent in Canada and been on a mini-signing spree, recently picking up bands across the country, such as Striker, Mortillery, Ex Deo and now Crimson Shadows. The result of all this hard work is that they have just issued their second full-length album, KINGS AMONG MEN.
There have been a few changes since the bands independent debut GLORY ON THE BATTLEFIELD, back in 2012, a new bassist and of course the record deal. The album cover is very attractive and the ten cut album is just under an hour, with two instrumentals and an epic song called ‘Moonlight Skies and Bloody Ties’, sequenced where epics are usually placed on albums, at the end. Crimson Shadows perform a faster, heavier brand of Power Metal with some good Dragonforce influences in the very speedy guitar work. The production is very good as well, the band recruited Eyal Levi who has worked with Battlecross, Death Angel, Firewind and several others.
The vocals are a combination of clean and gruff, sometimes trading off, sometimes heard simultaneously, there arte many layers of vocals and the lyrics are all tales of high adventure; heroes, and kings, and battles and storms…all excellent stuff. The guitars and drums just race along, the pace of the entire album is relentless, Crimson Shadows are basically among the new breed of epic speed metal (which I love) along with bands like Pathfinder, Reinxeed and Victorious. Every song is fast and deadly, over the top, epic and glorious; killer chops with excellent song-craft and did I mention solos? KINGS AMONG MEN lots of killer solos and some amazing bass work on the aforementioned final, epic song.
As a reviewer, I’m find it harder and harder to find any negative elements in the amount of amazing young Canadian bands that are waving the flag for true Metal and Crimson Shadows are certainly in that category.
With good distribution on an international label, people around the world will be able to hear for themselves what is considered to be one of Canada’s best bands, because they are kings among men.