Crimson Shadows – Kings Among Men (Napalm Records)

Sunday, 24th August 2014
Rating: 6.5/10

Fresh on the heels of winning the 2013 Wacken Metal Battle, Canadian champions Crimson Shadows inked a deal with Napalm Records (joining label mates including Summoning, Vintersorg and Gloryhammer, among many more) to make their pro debut. Winning what’s probably the biggest heavy metal battle of the bands on the planet is nothing to snuff at, and these adept Canucks now, in turn, offer up what they’ve well earned. The hard part will be: who wants to listen to it?

It must be a rare thing to find a band so competent, insisting to inspire with inspiring images of heroism in battle, so…uninspired. Through a seemingly fresh melding of power and death metals, Crimson Shadows concocts a brew that perhaps recalls Amon Amarth playing Dragonforce, coming across as wholly unoriginal, over-produced and sterile (for an actually fresh glimpse of a collision of these genres, see Sweden’s Desultor).

Vocalist Jimi Maltais, when not bellowing his battle roar (his main forte on Kings Among Men), likes to slide into the ol’ good cop/bad cop routine (or sensitive mall-band cop/angry Norse Lord cop bit, as I like to call it). Truly a tired trend most hoped was on the way out, yesterday, it remains a viable recourse when penning a vocal part. Getting into the instrumentation of the band, it must be said that the band is very good. Twin guitar work with plenty of shred, tons of whipping-fast drumwork, and totally solid all-around rhythm section crank out fast, epic death/power songs in pro form. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good songs.

Problem is, there is just nothing to really take away from Kings Among Men. I can’t hear any longevity in these songs and what’s more found the band’s sound rather cloying, songs mundane and recycled. Uncertain of who the receptive audience to Crimson Shadows will be, I suspect not many of either genre camp will be lining up to get their hands on this one. Maybe next time…the potential is there.

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