This is my first taste of Poland’s Crystal Viper. Their new album Possession drops on December 10 via AFM Records, and it’s not bad. It’s not groundbreaking or earth-shattering either, but still, not bad. I guess my only issue is that it sounds very, very familiar. I know that sometimes you tend to play like your heroes/influences, but I just don’t get some of these bands that put out essentially what are carbon copies of 80’s records, right down to the silly song titles sometimes.
Tracks like “Mark of the Horned One” and “Voices In My Head” instantly reminded me of Michael Kiske-era Helloween, which is OK because that’s the only Helloween that was worth a damn anyway. “Julie Is Possessed” and “Why Can’t You Listen?” showcase vocalist/guitarist Marta Gabriel’s vocal prowess nicely, and she proves she can be as rough as the boys for sure. “You Will Die You Will Burn” was probably my favorite song, largely due to that medieval-sounding intro and meaty riffs throughout. Gabriel does her best Bruce Dickinson on this one, too, and it works really well. Got my attention right away.
“Fight Evil With Evil” and opener “Voices In My Head” are honestly a bit generic for my tastes, but “We Are Many” is another bright spot on this record. I didn’t particularly care for the slower “Prophet of the End” either. I wasn’t a fan of it when it was any number of slow tunes in the 80’s, stuck somewhere on side two as filler, and I’m sure not a fan now. Bad call, in my opinion. And as is apparently their custom, Crystal Viper closes out the album with a pretty goddamn good cover of Riot’s “Thundersteel” that I thoroughly enjoyed.
As I said before, this album was good, not great. It’s nice…not THRILLING, but nice. You can certainly tell where this band’s tastes lie, and again, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I definitely can’t see them having more than a niche audience.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “You Will Die You Will Burn”, “We Are Many”, “Why Can’t You Listen?”, “Voices In My Head”