CRYSTAL BALL – “Crysteria”
By Colonel Angus
CRYSTAL BALL is a band that I have had run-ins with for the past two decades and while I wasn’t impressed with a couple of their earlier releases like “Virtual Empire”, I have to admit that most of their output is consistently good. My problem with the band was that nothing stood out to make me go back and give the albums repeated listens but as I get older (and a lot of the hard rock/metal that is coming out today leaves me cold), I find myself looking back to bands that I previously “wrote off”. CRYSTAL BALL is just one of those bands that I overlooked but since 2015’s “Liferider”, I have been getting into their brand of metal and realized that I was missing out on some good catchy melodic tunes.
The pandemic, while causing many bands to stop touring, has also afforded these same bands the time to craft a lot of songs and giving them the luxury of picking the cream of the crop. Such was the case for CRYSTAL BALL and if you believe the press, they had 30 tracks to choose from. Based on the quality of the tracks on “Crysteria”, I’m sure many of the songs left on the ‘cutting room floor” would be gold to other lesser bands. Now let me be clear, “Crysteria” is not revolutionary and CRYSTAL BALL is not re-inventing the wheel. But I think that isn’t the point either. Everything here is about coming up with catchy, melodic, and well-crafted song performed by a group of guys that know their way around their instruments. There is so much music being released on a weekly basis, we forget to just sit back and enjoy a record for what it is. There are a lot of highlights on “Crysteria” starting with opener “What Part of No” but if you are thinking CRYSTAL BALL front loaded this disk with the best at the beginning, then you would be sorely mistaken.
There is a great swagger to “I Am Rock”, an epic-ness to the title track, an and awesome groove to “Sole Conviction”. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that if you like “The Zoo” by the SCORPIONS, you’ll love “Make My Day” which is extremely close to the former. Even one of the bonus tracks “Till You Meet Again” (which is a ballad btw) is worthy of being on the disk. Oddly, a couple of the tracks that feature duets with other metal musos don’t really add anything to the proceedings. Ronnie Romero, who I rate highly, doesn’t bring anything extra to “Call of the Wild” and bringing in friends JADED HEART didn’t improve “Crystal Heart”. Both are good tunes and definitely need to be included here but I don’t feel the songs were improved in any way by adding those vocals. All in all, I have to say that I enjoy “Crysteria” more and more with each listen and it’s an improvement on their past releases. My recommendation is to pop open a beer, crank up “Crysteria”, and just enjoy the tunes.