Reviewed: December 1999
Released: 1988, Roadrunner Records
Classic Pick Of The Month
With the recent release of Astronomica by the newly reformed Crimson Glory, I thought it might be appropriate to review their 1988 masterpiece, Transcendence, as this month’s Classic Pick. Well… That, plus the fact that EvilG contacted me two days before the new reviews were due and said (I’m paraphrasing here), “I’m swamped and in need of a Classic Pick! Help me! HELP MEEEE….!!!”. Because I’m “grace under pressure” personified (Yeah, right…), I agreed to help my metal brother out during his time of need. (You owe me, man! Hehehe…)
A rather recent addition to my own CD collection, Transcendence is considered by many prog/power metal enthusiasts to be an often overlooked classic of the genre. I decided to get it when I placed my order for Astronomica and noticed that Transcendence was on sale for only $5.99. “Only $5.99?”… So I figured “What the hell?”. It was a small gamble that paid off in my favor, as I wound up liking it very much. (As a side note, I also managed to get my hands on one of the 5000 limited edition double-disc sets of Astronomica. So to those of you who only have the domestic release… “Nyah, nyahnyah, nyah nyaah nyaaaah….” Hehehe…)
Originally known as Beowulf, Crimson Glory was formed in Sarasota, Florida in 1982 by guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords, and original drummer Dana Burnell. After recruiting vocalist Midnight, the band spent nearly four years developing a sound and image they could call their own. Then in 1986, they recorded their self-titled debut for Roadrunner Records in Europe, where they toured successfully in support of it’s release. Transcendence followed in 1988. And after touring Europe, North America, and Japan with heavyweight acts such as Metallica, Ozzy, and Queensryche, Crimson Glory surprised their fans in 1991 with the release of Strange and Beautiful, an album which was somewhat of a departure from their established prog-metal sound. Shortly afterward, the band members went their separate ways, leaving their own small, but great legacy in the history of Heavy Metal.
With the history lesson out of the way, let’s move on, shall we??? The first thing I noticed when I received my copy of Transcendence was the cover art, a picture of a naked chick flying through space on some sort of rocket… Now that’s what I call Sci-Fi, Baby!!! WOO-HOO!!! (I studied it rather intently while listening to the CD.) After only one listen, I immediately understood why this album is considered a classic… Simply put, it’s just plain awesome! Tracks like “Lady of Winter”, “Masque of the Red Death”, “In Dark Places”, and “Where Dragons Rule”, while far from simple in terms of complexity, stick in your head after only 1 or 2 listens.
But unfortunately, Crimson Glory didn’t enter the music scene until after metal had started to wane in popularity. That fact, combined with Midnight’s insistence on pushing the band in a new direction (Strange and Beautiful is generally panned by both fans and band members.) and other internal problems, led to the band’s break up in 1992. But luckily for fans of the genre they’re back, this time with new vocalist Wade Black and former Savatage drummer Steve Wacholz. So if you’ve yet to check out any of Crimson Glory’s work, believe me, it’s worth your while to do so.
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