CRYSTAL BALL- Living The Life
Those of you who might have been paying any sort of attention to my year-end countdown this year saw Crystal Ball on there this time around. I know there’s a couple of you who aren’t surprised at all- in fact I know I kinda got those people just a little hooked on these guys earlier on in the year (you’re welcome, by the way *lol*). But as those of you who might have been following know, on my FB list I really didn’t go into a lot of detail. That’s what the Realm is for, and now it’s time for Crystal Ball’s “LifeRider” to have its moment in the spotlight.
Some of you are probably wondering, “Who the hell is Crystal Ball?” Well, allow me to enlighten you. These guys are a memorable, melodic hard rock outfit out of Switzerland (yes, the same land as Krokus- remember them?) I got my intro to them a couple of years back with 2013’s “Dawnbreaker” and was hooked from the start.
So whadda ya say we press Play and really delve deep into this disc?
Right off the hop, you’re getting hit with the beat. No easing you into this… “Mayday” sets the pace immediately, letting you know that you’re in for a rockin’ wild ride, so sit back, turn it up and enjoy the journey.
Now when I heard they were going to be releasing a new album, I was intrigued. When I heard there was going to be a duet with Battle Beast siren Noora Louhimo, I was definitely interested. Then I heard it… and my jaw hit the floor. Don’t believe me? Here. Check it out for yourself.
In my opinion, “Eye To Eye” is, without question, my definitely fave track on this disc. The seamless synergy of Noora and CB vocalist Steven Mageney is absolute magic. (Crank it loud at the 3-minute mark- trust me.) They set the bar high with this one, and while nothing quite surpasses it, the rest of the album spends every last minute chasing that bar and coming ever so close.
I know a lot of people were first introduced to this album (like I was) with “Paradise”. To be quite honest, they picked one hell of a track to put out for the general public to build interest. Following it up with another one of my top choices, the powerful and raucous “Balls Of Steel” keeps the pedal to the metal and doesn’t even dare to let up. The twin guitar punch of Scott Leach and Tony Castell take you straight to eargasm, while the thunderous rhythm section of drummer Marcel Sardella and bassist Cris Stone get those neck muscles a twitchin’.
“Hold Your Flag” brings things down just a tad, but with enough power and melody to keep you glued to your seat, giving you the briefest of respites from the in-your-face thunder before “Gods Of Rock” rips it away from you and gets the head a-bangin’.
Things slow down with “Bleeding”, giving you a chance to catch your breath. Enjoy the break while you have it, because they pump up the intensity again with “Rock of Life”, “Antidote” and the title track before bringing the rollercoaster back into the station with the more subdued “Memory Run”.
So what’s the bottom line here? If you’re looking for something that’s just straight-up speed and ear-splitting metal, this one probably isn’t for you. If you like your melody with catchy rhythms and precision guitar work mixed with vocals you can actually understand, then this is definitely one to be adding to your collection. It landed on my Top 10 of 2015 for a reason.
The final verdict… I’m giving this one a solid 8/10.