|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By: Lada Krizek|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: Czech Republic|
|Year Released: 2009||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 36:14|
The Czech Republic is home to Kreyson and its choice brand of classic melodic metal. The group was founded in the late eighties by vocalist Ladislav Krizek prior to recording Czech and English versions of its first two albums, Andel na Uteku (Angel On the Run) from 1990 and Krizaci (Crusaders) from 1991. Following up with the all Czech efforts Elixír Života (1993) and Zákon Džungle (1995), Kreyson later released Angel On The Run and Crusaders in Germany (Flame Trader) and Japan (JVC) in addition to a 1996 compilation entitled, appropriately, The Best Of Kreyson. After going on extended hiatus, Kreyson regrouped in 2008 by putting out its first and only live album, Noc plná hvìzd Tøinec 2007. Kreyson continued to stay active by returning to the studio a year later to re-record ten of its classic songs of the past for its first North American release on Retroactive Records, 20 Years Of Kreyson.
What we have in Kreyson is melodic metal with the occasional speed metal, power metal and neo-classical influence. Now, at this point it must be noted that 20 Years Of Kreyson includes re-recorded versions of seven songs off Angel On The Run, one from Crusaders and two, I am willing to guess, that appeared on either of the two Czech releases, Elixír Života or Zákon Džungle. It also must be pointed out that the material here features new song titles and lyrics (in a bolder and more forthright direction) as well. In other words, for those that own the originals, you will recognize the music but not necessarily the song titles (I will let you figure out which is which).
Musically, 20 Years Of Kreyson is a very strong release in that all its material brings the needed elements to garner your full attention: notable chorus hooks, fiery guitar solos, high end vocals and pummeling drums. The energetic but catchy sounds of “Judgement Day”, “Cursing And Crying”, “Ten”, “Parable” and “Endure The Night” support this best. When the band steps it up a notch, such as on “Warrior Angel”, it approaches speed metal territory while the more tempered sounds of “The Lord Will Come” and “Mary”, in contrast, prove no less able.
The band, all around made smart decisions in terms of the material it re-recorded, although they did overlook my all time favorite Kreyson song, “Crusaders”.
Ladislav Krizek shines with his high end and melodic vocal approach. Cutting loose with several trademark screams and falsettos throughout the project (just check out the chorus to “Cry Out”), Ladislav can add an element of grit to his delivery as well (such as on “Ten”). It also must be reinforced the work of talented guitarist Radek Kroc, who stands out with his select soloing abilities on “Cursing And Crying”, “Parable” and “The Lord Will Come”. If you are interested in a tight rhythm section then look no further than the team of bassist Ludek Adamek and drummer Zdenek Pradlovsky.
Production values fail to disappoint – the band knows its way around in the studio – although the lead vocals are placed a bit forward in the mix.
The only constructive comment to offer regarding 20 Years Of Kreyson is that the band could have done a bit more with the project. Rather than an album of re-recorded material, for instance, wouldn’t it have made better sense to simply re-issue Angel On The Run and Crusaders? That, of course, is easier said than done in that we do not know the type of “red tape” that might have stood in the way of a potential re-issue of either. But if you are going to re-record your past material, why settle for only ten songs (and just over 35 minutes of music)? Those who own the groups back catalog are well aware that 20 Years Of Kreyson could easily have featured up to 14 or 15 quality tracks. And that leads to my final point: Why not turn the project into a two CD release instead, with the first being made up of material from Angel On The Run and Crusaders and the second English versions of the better songs off the two Czech releases (that most people have not had the opportunity to hear).
“Judgement Day” gets the album going in rollicking fashion, pummeling its full length to a substantial drum sound and Ladislav’s trademark melodic screams in abundance. Deep backing vocals step forward to sustain its driving chorus. “Judgement Day” proves aptly entitled:
Just as the sages long ago foretold
Just as the prophets prophesied of old
Just as He said, the heavens will be opened
Just as you read the time has come
Oh, Kreyson – flights of angels
Oh, Judgement Day – light forever
“Cursing and Crying” might reduce the tempo – if only somewhat – but not the quality. With its razor edged riffs and settled mid-paced impetus, the song establishes a forceful environs for its verses only to gain initiative for a chorus on the guttural side of things.
A three minute burst of energy might be the best way to describe “Ten”. Upbeat in tempo although commercial in form, the song proves a hook driven monster with its catchy chorus and infectious guitar harmonies. Stryper is the first thing to come to mind here.
Ladislav exhibits the full range to his voice on “Cry Out” an upbeat hard rocker which finds him cutting loose with some high-end falsettos during its spirited chorus. The song, otherwise, starts slowly to a stretch of melodic based riffing before kicking into the high-octane momentum that carries its distance. Crying out to God is the subject at hand:
When you are all alone
And no one hears you cry
When every day is just
Another chance to die
There is someone
Who feels your pain inside
Waiting for you to hear Him calling
“The Lord Will Come” brings some power metal touches with its stately ambience. As a matter of fact, put this on any Sacred Warrior album and it would sound right at home. What I particularly enjoy about the song is how it decelerates for its bridge as the bass guitar moves to the front of the mix. Lyrics are spot on as well:
There is a King who is higher
He’ll judge all your works with holy fire
Come, come on
And bow before Him
Come, sooner or later
You will behold Him in all His glory
The Lord will come in judgement
And we well all answer to Him
“Mary” borders on ballad territory. The song stands out as a melodic based piece, opening to a gently played guitar before moving on to a stretch of bluesy lead guitar. As it moves forward, “Mary” jumps back and forth between tranquilly driven passages and others carried at the more decisive tempo with the rhythm guitar receiving a prominent mix.
“Parable” delivers its share of variety, ranging from striking double bass storms, falsetto screams, mercurial lead guitar and time changes of a near technical capacity. Momentum peaks for a chorus that borders on the breathtaking. Albums best track. “Parable” draws its lyrics from the Parable of the Sower:
Seeds are falling like rain from heaven
Landing here inside my heart
Each one ready to bear fruit
Seeking a place where it can start growing
Birds hungry and dark
Could steal the seeds
Land, swallow them up
And fly away
Where can they grow and take root?
Where can they grow and bear fruit?
“Stay”, in contrast, heads in the more straightforward direction. Mid-paced melodic metal, the song plows through its weighty verses only to gain momentum upon acquiring a chorus written from the standpoint of God:
Stay a moment here on your knees
Let me fill You with my love and my truth
Stay a moment here on your knees
I’m waiting here just to talk to you
“Endure The Night” opens to Ladislav’s spoken word delivery underlined by a quietly played guitar. The song moves forward at a decisive tempo once a metal laced guitar takes over, putting in place a near imposing setting while delivering its share of moments that are finesse filled and others with a decidedly muscular edge. Chorus wise, this one approaches the grand and stately.
“Warrior Angel”, a song that could easily be described as the Angelic Warlord namesake, almost closes on speed metal territory with its furious momentum. Yes, this one is fast but it is also surprisingly catchy in combining a profound chorus hook with a tempestuous milieu. The topic discussed is spiritual warfare:
The hosts of heaven
The hordes of hell
Are locked in battle
And your heart is the battlefield
The war is raging all around
You can’t escape it
You cannot see me
But I’m your warrior angel
The war goes on around you
Only you can decide
But I can defend you
For I’m your warrior angel
My all around feeling is that I would have liked 20 Years Of Kreyson to include a couple more songs; that said, you cannot fault the group for the material that it chose to re-record. The strong band performance and solid production values add to the albums quality. If you missed Angel On The Run and Crusaders (both long out of print) then by all means get this. Even if you own the originals you will still want to pick up 20 Years Of Kreyson to hear the new interpretation of the bands classic material.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Judgement “Day” (3:57), “Cursing And Crying” (3:40), “Ten” (3:01), “Cry Out” (3:02), “The Lord Will Come” (3:38), “Mary” (3:53), “Parable” (4:27), “Stay” (3:27), “Endure The Night” (4:25), “Warrior Angel” (2:46)
Ladislav Krizek – Lead Vocals
Radek Kroc – Guitars
Ludek Adamek – Bass
Zdenek Pradlovsky - Drums