Crystallion – Heads or Tails (Pride & Joy Music)Tuesday, 9th March 2021
German act Crystallion has a lengthy history as a group – starting in 2003 as more of a bombastic power metal act for their early albums before adding more of a heavy/hard rock influence to their sound. Losing long-time vocalist Thomas Strübler a couple of years ago, in 2019 Kristina Berchtold took over those duties, gaining seasoning at summer festivals in Germany before hitting the studio for Heads or Tails. It’s evident throughout this eleven-track outing that the quartet live for an anthem-like template, chock full of memorable choruses, exciting/emotive lead breaks, up front/energetic bass action, and solid grooves/melodies that are straightforward and heavy metal to the bone.
Kristina has that fierce charm and semi-accented nature to her wide, powerful range that will probably make many think of Doro Pesch – especially when belting out those high notes on “Livin’ on a Lie” or the driving Rainbow-esque “Under the Spell”. The 2:33 opening title track instrumental has a softer to heavier ambiance – bassist Steve Hall playing as important a role as the supplementary keyboards and culturally-driven guitar lines, especially through the galloping duties he delivers on “Knights and Heroes” that should get the masses fist pumping to glory. The freedom these musicians give each other when it comes to interplay adds dynamic depth to the basic arrangements – all in the name of creating unity and unique opportunities for memorable songwriting. The Bonfire-like “I’m on Fire” or uplifting “The Wild Hunt” two examples where at times the drumming or bass take center stage – or all the musicians set a bit back to allow Kristina and the background harmony support vocally carry the verses and choruses. Gaining seasoned support behind the scenes with Mario Lochert (Serious Black) for engineering/mixing and Jan Vacik for mastering ensures a high-quality final product in the sound department.
Heads or Tails won’t exactly set Crystallion apart from many who perform in this mid to late 80’s melodic heavy metal/hard rock style – it’s genuine, authentic material though that could find favor with people who love Doro, Warlock, and older Bonfire.