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Music Reviews: Crimson Glory, Last Crack, Solitude Aeturnus, and Tristania

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Well it's Friday again and that means it's time for me to write another bunch of reviews from my latest pile of CDs. This week we have a bunch of re-issues and one new release (oh what a release it is.) but I shall save it until last.

CD Reviews

Recently I was fortunate to have a nice pile of Roadrunner re-issues dispatched to me for my consideration. These are just two of the many I got. These are lovingly remastered CDs, only 2000 of which were made, with sleeve notes in a rather fetching slip case.

Crimson Glory: Strange and Beautiful and Astronomica

One of these CDs features the original singer Midnight, or rather on and off singer, who is now said to be off again despite a re-union tour. The second CD features Midnight's replacement who just replaced him again.

Strange and Beautiful was a major departure for the band who used to sport metal face plates to make them all look the same. The disc is less power metal and far more straight, heavy rock. It was not entirely beloved by the fans but on its own merit it makes for quite a good album. It does border on cock-rock at times (or rather as they put it "full of sexual energy") but that does not take away from damn good tracks like "Make You Love Me" and "Song for Angels". The remastering makes it clear what a good album this is in the end. Listen to it on its merit and forget the band's past. It's one of CG's album I missed the first time around.

Secondly we have an extensive re-issue of Astronomica with not just bonus tracks but a whole CD of remakes, demo versions, and live tracks, eight in all. Astronomica saw the band head straight into the arena of power-metal, coupled with a touch of Metallica, with Jeff Lords powerful vocals providing the right tone for the whole thing. There is no denying the sublime quality of "War of the Worlds" or "Cydonia". Metallers might like "Lucifer's Hammer" for its sheer power.

Last Crack: Sinister Funkhouse 17 and Burning Time

Yet another almost band that was felled by bad luck and bad decisions, Last Crack was not exactly a band that was easy to pin down. At times reminding one of Jane's Addiction and even Voivod they deliver a more accessible form of art-metal that takes a bit of time to get used to but has its merits. SF17 was notorious for its cover with lead singer Buddo doing an archer pose naked in front of blood (actually paint) splattered walls. On this CD you get two live tracks in the form of "Blood Brothers of the Big Black Bear" and "Saraboyscage" both epic tracks that show the force that was the band live.

Burning Time is more of the same, quite unusual but accessible at the same time, and well worth a chance. Tracks like "Mack Bollases" (You get both studio and live here.) demonstrates the band still has it.

Both of the band's albums are well worth picking up if you are interested in some damn good '90s hard rock. There are hints here of what would turn into grunge as well.

Solitude Aeternus: Into the Depths of Sorrow

Hailed by Metal Hammer as "One of the most underrated doom trappers of all time, the Texans brought a sense of mournful, dark riffage into metal with this their debut album." This album had a major impact on the doom metal fraternity, possibly more in Europe, partly paving the way for the whole doom/goth symphonic metal craze. It's heavy as hell but also deeply tuneful and clever. This has far more in common with 1970's prog than it does with Black Sabbath and their simple chugga-chugga riffing. If you don't own this album you should and what better time to get it than this re-issue with its three bonus tracks, sleeve notes and remastered glory?

Of all of this lot I would get Solitude Aeternus first and then move onto the rest depending on your taste. I had forgotten just how good SA is, which is rather good, as they are set to return this year.

Okay, now it's on to the one new CD of this week's selection.

Tristania: Illumination

Alright we always knew that this lot was damn good but Illumination is their Once or even Ghost Reveries an album that completely sums up what the band is about. It's a stunning goth symphonic metal tour de force that just gets better and better with every listen. While not as accessible as Nightwish, it rewards those that give it a chance.

This is one of those few amazing albums that is a bugger to review because it's just that good. There is not a turkey on this puppy, even though the music ranges from almost Evanescence pop "Destination Departure" to heavy bleak near-death metal "In the Wake" (the bonus track). The band even drafted in Vorph when Osten's vocals were not extreme enough.

If you are at all interested in female-led goth metal then you could do far worse than pick up this excellent CD. This will keep the goth and the metallers both happy in the clubs. Unlike many CDs I review, this one will stay on the iPod for quite a while. Within Temptation has had the gauntlet thrown down to them by these feisty Norwegians. This album deserves to be bloody huge!

Well that is your lot for the week. Now its time to move on to some 'eavier stuff with a couple from Earache and a trio of re-issues by Xentrix.

As always stay rocking, safe and check out live music where ever you might find it.

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