Crystal Viper – Legends (AFM Records)

Thursday, 21st March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

As history has demonstrated, a female singer is a good way to change the landscape, or at least get more eyeballs pointed in the desired direction. And since there a few landscapes as dry as power metal, it manages to work for Polish-based power metallers Crystal Viper. On Legends, the band does manage to use every power cliché known to man (or woman), but the added element of singer Marta Gabriel gives it the apropos nudge in the right direction.

Gabriel is hardly spectacular, but neither was Doro, so when she’s belting out the choruses to the valiant “Blood of the Heroes” or “Goddess of Death,” it’s easy to drop her into a band like Hammerfall, who are probably the closest cousins in terms of comparison. Gabriel also gets high marks on “Sydonia Bork,” a tender ballad that shows the Pole can do more than rasp her away through an album.

Flashy Crystal Viper is not, so they’re often left to rely on the previously-done melodies and song constructs, namely the very Stratovarious-esque “A Man of Stone.” Elsewhere, the surging “The Ghost Ship,” and “Night of the Sin” are traditionally-styled PM romps, complete with rousing choruses and ample amounts of gang vocals which are the stuff that Doro made her uh, “legend” out of.

Indicative of just how willing some power metal bands are in terms of playing it close to the vest, Legends won’t blow the doors off anyone, yet it’s the tried-and-true formula of simple songs, bombastic choruses, and a vamping female singer that gets the job done. Amazing what a touch of a woman will do, eh?

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