Crystal Throne – Crystal Throne (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 12th January 2022
Rating: 8.5/10

A progressive heavy metal act from France, Crystal Throne started in 2019 as a union between vocalist Terry DeFire and guitarist Max Waynn. Fleshing out the lineup as a quartet, this self-titled debut contains nine tracks of intriguing material – combining elements from NWOBHM and power/progressive metal along with obvious neoclassical accents to delight those who love soaring melodies, intriguing guitar harmonies, and energetic rhythm section work that reverts to numerous 80’s reference points.

Following a short “Fate & Triumph” intro, the lightning quick licks and shredding/neoclassical work of Waynn gets “Rise to Glory” into the hearts of those who love Yngwie Malmsteen, Eternity’s End, or Dragonforce. Add in the upper falsetto notes and eagle high screams from Terry DeFire throughout and as you take in “Timescape” or “Mechanical Tyranny” most will feel the sharp viciousness and standout lung capacity to command attention immediately – his range, versatility, and professionalism on par with Geoff Tate and Ray Alder during their peak 80’s years. Layers of guitar wizardry along with propulsive bass and drum underpinning give the listener plenty of highlight sequences to key in and absorb – some of my favorites including “Shades of Existence” and the Gamma Ray meets Maiden-esque seven-minute plus epic “Valkyrie Ride”. When the band shifts into softer atmosphere elements for bluesy licks against a power ballad arrangement template, you get the impressive closer “Crystal Warrior” – the four-piece stretching into more melodic, calmer terrain for the verses and building momentum properly, the final sequence containing killer vocal harmonies and circular guitar themes perfect for unison audience participation. Many listeners may also find refreshing the natural snare/kick tones throughout, a welcome aural aspect compared to using samples and triggers to achieve a homogenized ‘perfect’ digital sound.

When you hear this much talent together delivering solid musicianship-filled numbers right away that contain plenty of earworms and measures that elicit praise, we can only hope that this is the start of an impressive run of albums for Crystal Throne. Keep an eye on this group, especially those who love NWOBHM-fused progressive, neoclassical metal.

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