|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Jan Nemec|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Czech Republic|
|Year Released: 1992/2011||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 40:02|
One of the greatest attributes of the metal scene is its universal appeal. Metal fans exist worldwide - a particular that the Angelic Warlord access logs readily attest to - and their passion knows no bounds when it comes to national borders, customs and even languages. Those in doubt only need consider the wide array of counties in which the metal scene has taken root: Brazil (Adiastasia), Switzerland (Pylon), Australia (Wonrowe Vision), Finland (HB), Sweden (Jerusalem), Canada (Thunder Rider), Italy (Timesword), Germany (Mad Max) and the Czech Republic (Kreyson).
Kreyson is a group of particular note, having released its full length debut, Angel On The Run, in 1990 and sophomore effort Crusaders two years later. Both albums, long out of print and hard to find (the two were last made available in 1991 on Victor Entertainment in Japan), were re-issued on Ulterium Records - with new album artwork - in the summer of 2011.
How do the two compare? Whereas Angel On The Run is the faster and heavier work reflecting a classic metal influence, Crusaders slows things down in taking the more tempered and mid-paced heading. Gone, for instance, are many of the speed metal lacings of Angel On The Run, replaced with a polished sound trending towards melodic metal laced with occasional power metal elements.
Not that Crusaders fails to hit hard, as it does on faster tracks “No Bad Thing” and “Give Me Hope” and the power metal influenced “Forgiveness”, but it approaches things from the more measured standpoint. This is best found in catchy mid-paced anthems “The Prisoner” and “Crusaders” in addition to the heavier direction taken on “Commandments”. “Cries” brings a melodic based sound while “Still” proves a customary (and very good) ballad.
I obtained Crusaders in the mid-nineties and, similar to Angel On The Run, have found it to hold up quite well over the years in featuring no filler tracks or skip buttons. The two albums, if anything, prove complementary towards one another: Angel On The Run, on one hand, is slightly stronger musically, but Crusaders, on the other, features the more polished production. In the end, for every ten good points you could make about Angel On The Run you could counter with ten more about Crusaders- so what we wind up with are two equally good albums that would make worthwhile additions to your collection.
Ladislav Krizek continues to bring a high end and melodic based vocal approach. Crusaders finds him maturing vocally in presenting with that much more control over his delivery. He all around smoothes things out while backing off somewhat in terms of the falsetto department (at least in comparison to his performance on Angel On The Run).
Guitarist Jaroslav Barton remains a shredder if there ever was one - he best cuts loose soloing wise on “Stay A Moment” and “The Prisoner” - but still takes ample opportunity to showcase his magnificent guitar harmony abilities. The rhythm section of bassist Karen Adam and drummer Daniel Hafstein perform equally able. Adam lays down a monster bass line on “Prisoner” while “Hafstein” executes his precise timekeeping skills on “Cries”.
Lyrics are not included with the packaging (I wrote the review off the original 1992 version) but, as with Angel On The Run, are written from a Christian perspective. “Crusaders” makes a strong statement of faith: “To be crucified/On the cross/we thank God”. You will also find a running theme of forgiveness in that “Stay A Moment” talks about how “If you want to live/You have to forget/And you have to forgive” while “Forgiveness” maintains the theme: “Forgiveness/The best prize you can give”.
Track By Track
“Pilgrimage (Intro)” proves a short (2:47) but dark opener, with a church organ carrying its first couple minutes and keyboards the lone verse that follows.
The albums title track is by far my favorite from Kreyson. “Crusaders” starts slowly to an open air guitar, maintaining the mid-tempo leanings its length as a sublimely driven chorus and anthem-like aura are reinforced. Momentum tapers near the end for narration followed by a short instrumental excursion.
“Commandments” upholds the mid-paced proclivity, albeit with the heavier focus. The song delivers quite the compelling blow during its staunch verses only to pick up the pace for a spirited chorus in which Krizek exhibits the full range to his voice. Classic metal territory is approached here.
“No Bad Thing” starts slowly to a quietly played guitar, but at just the moment you think it is a ballad it abruptly kicks into high gear. The sustained momentum that results, as a matter of fact, brings to mind some of the speed metal tendencies of Angel On The Run. A much needed upbeat change of pace.
“Still” delivers the ballad goods. The song moves its distance acoustically but with keyboards highlighting the backdrop. Occasional rhythm guitar and bluesy lead guitar can be found as well. This one is as mellow as it gets as far as Kreyson are concerned.
Up-tempo melodic metal would be the best description for “Stay A Moment”. The song takes catchy hooks in abundance and joins them with plenty of shred guitar work and a lower-register vocal performance from Krizek. The uplifting atmosphere brings to mind Stryper or Guardian at their best.
“Forgiveness” maintains the upbeat heading, although a bit heavier in that some power metal lacings can be found. Chorus is boisterous while, in contrast, plenty of grit-laden and bluesy lead guitar work is also presented. Positive message as well.
Crusaders closes to three of its better tracks in “Cries”, “Give Me Hope” and “The Prisoner”.
“Cries” begins slowly to an ominous - almost doom-like - opening. The song proceeds to move forward in classy fashion, with overpowering guitar riffs upholding its verses and keyboards a smoothly flowing giving rise to a ton of hooks. Kreyson puts it all together on this one.
“Give Me Hope” borders on all out speed metal. Hypersonic drum explosions and lightning-like guitar runs abound as the song roars its brief (3:23) stretch. The full on energy finds the band in its natural high energy element- I wish there were a few more like this one here.
The bass guitar solo at the start of “The Prisoner” gives way to an anthem-like riff. Tight guitar harmonies take over as the song powers ahead, the bass continuing to play a pronounced rose as an environs on the stately side of things is obtained: Chorus is over the top and lead work razor edged. Similar to “Cries”, “The Prisoner” finds Kreyson at the top of its game.
Crusaders represents a solid melodic metal album. No, not quite as fast and heavy as Angel On The Run but in bringing the more polished feel holds up every bit as well. Kreyson still proves its worth musicianship wise with all four of its members standing out- strongly recommended as a result.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Pilgrimage (Intro)” (2:47), “Crusaders” (5:16), “Commandments” (3:42), “No Bad Thing” (4:24), “Still” (4:04), “Stay A Moment” (3:45), “Forgiveness” (3:24), “Cries” (4:57), “Give Me Hope” (3:23), “The Prisoner” (4:17)
Ladislav Krizek – Lead Vocals
Jaroslav Barton – Guitars
Karel Adam – Bass
Daniel Hafstein - Drums