Toronto’s metallers, Crimson Shadows, seem to be a band on the “up and up”. One almost has to take a deep breath before running off their list of achievements, for example; an album release, an EP, performing countless shows with some of metal’s biggest names, a successful signing with Napalm Record and finally, winning the title of International Wacken Battle Champions in 2013. Now they have released their highly anticipated second album, Kings Among Men.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Crimson Shadows, think Children of Bodom meets Rhapsody of Fire who then become best mates with Dragonforce, and altogether they create epic, guitar fuelled, charging-into-battle sound-track metal (of yore!). Here’s some other information you might also like to know, Kings Among Men is a tale told in two chapters, with an intro song to signify the start of each, about the rise (“March of Victory”) and fall (“Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides”) of a king.
Kings Among Men is similar to their previous release, in that it starts with a short introductory “March of Victory”, which comes in at 1 minute 10 seconds, and evokes an mental image in keeping with the track title. For me, however, the imagery is interrupted by the rather abrupt ending and the transition from intro to “Rise to Power” could have been cleaner and smoother in its changeover. Having said that, “Rise to Power”, filled with speeding guitars, rolling double-kick drums and deep growls more than compensates. The track definitely gets the blood pumping as well as providing a musical performance that progresses the tale’s journey.
You can really appreciate Jimi Maltais’ deep guttural roars in “Heroes Among Us”, which flow seamlessly with the relentless drums, fast yet precise guitars and formidable bass. “Maidens Call” also features some real groovy bass work, never-ending epic guitar parts and miles of spine-snapping, breakneck drumming. However, “A Gathering of Kings” – much to my annoyance / irritation and every other word that expresses general dissatisfaction – sounds remarkably like Dragonforce. So much so, that I had to double check that iTunes hadn’t shuffled my library… So there’s that… Which isn’t a great thing as no one wants to listen to recycled garbage. But this track still feature lots of quirky harmonies, guitar solos and even has quite a memorable chorus.
“On the Eve of Battle” marks the second chapter of the tale, and like the first two tracks, you can visualise (with the help of added sound effects such as; a crackling fire), the surroundings and progression of the tale. Additionally, the sharp cut on the first introduction has been dealt with here and this time round the intro flows into “Freedom and Salvation” perfectly, with no obvious cuts.
Littered with double-kicks, guttural screams and epic speedy guitars “Dawn of Vengeance” and “Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides” round the album off well. My only problem by this point is that the album has become a little predictable and repetitive, and a little too much like Dragonforce, for my personal liking.
All in all, Canadian battle warriors, Crimson Shadows, make folk/epic metal and death metal merge seamlessly like no other band and if you want an album that’s filled with the perfect amount of cheese and tons of speed-filled metal then Kings Among Men is the album for you! These guys do it well, and should definitely a band to keep an eye on in future. Meanwhile, go on and don your hose, grab a joust, mace or sword, and have a party (with this album as the sound-track of course!).
Released 29th August 2014 via Napalm Records
Jimi Maltais – vocals
Ryan Hofing – guitar
Greg Rounding – guitar/vocals
Morgan Rider – bass/backing vocals
Cory Hofing – Drums
1. March of Victory
2. Rise to Power
3. Heroes Among Us
4. A Gathering of Kings
5. Maidens Call
6. Braving the Storm
7. On the Eve of Battle (intro)
8. Freedom and Salvation
9.Dawn of Vengeance
10. Moonlit Skies and Bloody Tides