Πέμπτη, 3 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009

CRESCENT SHIELD - THE STARS OF NEVER SEEN

Όταν ενώνουν τις δυνάμεις τους μία απ' τις καλύτερες φωνές που κυκλοφορούν στην πιάτσα (Michael Grant) και ο άνθρωπος που υπογράφει το US Power μνημείο Breath Deep the Dark (Dan DeLucie) κάτι ιδιαίτερο περιμένεις. Και οι Crescent Shield όχι μόνο δεν διαψεύδουν αλλά ξεπέρασαν κάθε προσδοκία. Τα ύψη του The Last of my Kind δε φόβισαν. Μάλλον αποτέλεσαν εφαλτήριο για ακόμη μεγαλύτερες πτήσεις. Γίνεται; Πόσο ψηλότερα όταν είσαι στην κορφή; Μα, στον ουρανό, στ' άστρα. Το λέει κι ο τίτλος : The Stars of Never Seen. Στο δια ταύτα : όσοι τους γνωρίσατε απ' το ντεμπούτο τους εδώ να περιμένετε μία περισσότερο περίπλοκη, έντεχνη, εγκεφαλική προσέγγιση. Όχι, δεν ''το γύρισαν'' στο progressive. Απλά στα riff από ''ατσάλι'' προσθέστε έναν (μάλλον ιδιότυπο) τεχνοκρατικό λυρισμό που εξευγενίζει τη βαρύτητα αναδεικνύοντας μια πολυδιάστατη μουσική πρόταση. Συνεχείς αλλαγές, περίεργες αρμονίες, μαγικές μελωδίες, όμορφα ακουστικά μέρη (αχ! αυτός ο επίλογος του Temple of the Empty), επική ανάταση.Δίνω λόγο και πένα στον τραγουδιστή ως αρμοδιότερο εμού να παρουσιάσει τον δίσκο :

UNDER COVER OF SHADOWS
The album begins not with a “burst out of the gates” type song, but rather with a twisty, mysterious creature emerging from an evil mist. Then, mounting and riding a winged beast, charging into a war of unseen plagues of deception and death. Metal is thy name under myriad guises and we show you many in this song. The riffs are in the style of vintage DeLucie not heard since his “Secret Wisdom” days. We leave you to your own devices to unravel the true meaning of this song. Two notable sections are the galloping verses and the haunting “Witch Dance.” You can hide and shiver….or lift the cover of shadows. The choice is yours!

THE GRAND HORIZON
The ultimate science fiction heavy metal adventure. Fans of Destiny’s End will love this speed filled, headbanger’ s delight. Loaded with high energy guitars, drums and Valkerie-like vocals, this tells the story of a man fed up with this world and seeks “The stars of Never Seen,” - what lies beyond the known universe. He builds “A tear of light;” a craft constructed of pure energy, which allows him to travel thousands of times the speed of light. He does not know what lies ahead, but still races forth and encounters many strange worlds and experiences. It’s classic metal seasoned with elements of Voivod, Dio and completed by Dan’ s signature space travel solo! This would make a great video (if we could do one that would allow the Hollywood-budget needed for it!)

TIDES OF FIRE
As the embers of “The Grand Horizon” fade, another dark tale emerges. Solely written by Dan DeLucie, this thoughtful song is based on the novel “A Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M. Miller Jr. It is the story of what happens when a civilization experiences a worldly holocaust and then gets stuck in a primitive state. This is due to the fear of new advancements leading to more future Armageddon. It is a sad story and a sad song. Nevertheless, it is filled with beautiful melodies, lyrics and memorable textures. Many guitars sing the themes and the rich vocals carry the story to its bitter conclusion.

10,000 MIDNIGHTS AGO
Once in Vancouver, Canada, I was overwhelmed by the grey sadness of the sea and murky sky in contrast with the vibrant city and breathtaking mountains. One night, I looked up and was greeted by a startlingly crystal clear and starlit night. Feelings of sadness and hope bonded together to inspire the chorus and bridge riffs. As for the subject, I started to think back 30 years or so (10,000 midnights…it’s a better title!) and remembered how the music I love affected me when I first heard it. To this day, I still have child like dreams and hopes but have also gotten to know the harsh realities of life. While this song remains constant in its tone and tempo, the real layers are found in how the lyrics and vocal melodies dance to the subtle guitars and drum nuances. It is my most personal song on the record and we hope you peer inside and look back as well.

TEMPLE OF THE EMPTY
I had trouble with this one when we were doing the demo sessions for this album. Dan, Melanie and Craig all loved it, but I was frustrated. Now, after a year of reworking the vocals, lyrics and overall structure, I find it to be one of the most fascinating and satisfying songs on the record (especially the striking mandolin sequence). Dan’ s brilliant and haunting verse riffs challenged my vocal limits. The choruses are drenched in emotion exemplified by Melanie’s killer bass work. Fun fact…the bridge was once a stand-alone riff arranged by all four of us during our second ever rehearsal seven years ago! Lyrically, the song explores passive aggressiveness and how it can whittle us down to empty hollow shells. More horrible is to realize that too many of people in the world already exist in this state of mind. The song ends with one of the most heartfelt and mournful guitar solos ever.

MY ANGER
The outlaw of the album. This song was actually written during the “Last of My Kind” sessions. It’s probably the most straight-ahead song. Writing-wise we broke our own rules. The vocals goes along with the riff, words are frequently repeated and so on. It did not fit the character of LOMK so we put it on this record due to its sinister vibe. To be clear about it’s lyrical content… I’m not an angry or hateful person. This song is not about prejudice, hate or abuse or anything those weirdo Nazi skinhead losers like to shout about. This is a song about a good person who has been constantly wronged. It’s about passive aggressiveness and its end result. (In a way it’s a fitting companion to “Temple of the Empty”) These are some of my oldest lyrics. Some phrases were written when I was 12 years old. I had to put up with bully nonsense cuz of the Kiss and Maiden shirts I wore. It’s a classic subject I thought I would revisit. Now go thrash out!

THE BELLMAN
This is probably our most unusual song so far. The story is about the ghost of a mate, a sailor on a ship that sank due to the arrogance of the crew. They thought that standard practices in navigation were beneath them and that they were above the elements. The Bellman is now cursed and trapped in a port of call in the early 18th century. The only people who can see and hear him are the young, arrogant sailors destined to die at sea. The Bellman’s warnings of impending doom go unheeded and as the headstrong boys ship out, the last thing they hear is his bell. “It rings the chime of fate.” The song is completely written in a major key and the structure is reminiscent of a fable. The story is told by three characters: the Bellman (B); the young, arrogant sailors (Y); and the narrator (The Chorus – as Shakespeare called his narrator “the chorus” in Henry V). While it has an almost Broadway-ish feel to it, it’s still very METAL!! It is a short number, clocking in at 3:18, and serves as a good precursor to…

THE ENDURANCE
Crescent Shield’s most epic song to date. For years Dan has been fascinated by this story and he built a labyrinth of riffs over a two year period. Although nearly 10 minutes long, it is not overwhelming. Rather, it is a journey that takes you through the story at its most crucial points. Building, bellowing, soaring and retracting, it showcases some of our most intense performances (including masterful drumming by Craig) as well as some of our most quiet moments. I too became fascinated by this true story of the doomed Antarctic expedition led by Ernest Shackleton. Even though he and his crew never make it to the South Pole and the ship is crushed by the ice, the survivors cling to life for two years…It is a true tale of Endurance.

LIFESPAN
Many great Metal albums have epic closing numbers and “Lifespan” is no exception. The subject is as straightforward as it gets. We only have one life…live it well. For when we die, that’s it! However, I have given the lyrics a warning-like twist and a hidden dark message that can only be found before one’s death. This song debuted live at the Keep It True festival in 2008 and received a tremendous response. It’s personally one of my favorites and I think it would make a great “single” if such things exist anymore. This song moves at a breakneck pace and never lets up. The choruses are bold and memorable that lead up to its addicting fade out. Tight performances all around make this a Crescent Shield classic! Συμπληρωματικά θα πω ότι η Αμερικάνικη μπάντα φαντάζει (στ' αυτιά μου) ν' ακροβατεί ανάμεσα στους Jag Panzer και τους Titan Force μάλλον λόγω κοινών καταβολών. Ίσως πάλι να ''φταίει'' το φωνητικό στυλ του Grant (κι εδώ δίνει ρεσιτάλ) που παραπέμπει σε ψαλμωδία όμοια με του Conklin. Στον πυρήνα βέβαια πάντα υπάρχουν οι Rush. (Τα πρωτόνια και τα νετρόνια του US Power είναι οι Rush και οι Blue Oyster Cult.) Εν κατακλείδι, το The Stars of Never Seen βάζει βασική υποψηφιότητα τόσο για δίσκος της χρονιάς όσο και για κορυφαίος δίσκος της δεκαετίας στο είδος του.

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