"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Crescent Shield - "The Stars of Never Seen" (CD)

Crescent Shield - "The Stars of Never Seen" CD cover image

"The Stars of Never Seen" track listing:

1. Under Cover Of Shadows (6:54)
2. The Grand Horizon (4:34)
3. Tides Of Fire (4:19)
4. 10,000 Midnights Ago (4:23)
5. Temple Of The Empty (6:10)
6. My Anger (3:25)
7. The Bellman (3:24)
8. The Endurance (9:16)
9. Lifespan (6:34)

Reviewed by on June 30, 2009

"Crescent Shield doesn’t exactly qualify for 'super group' status, but it is composed entirely of veterans of the power metal genre."

Many a metal fan can cite the power metal genre as the bridge that led them from rock and pop into the more extreme bands that dominate the heavy metal scene today. With all the demonic screaming and symphonic keyboards going on, sometimes those more traditionally minded bands can get lost in the noise. Crescent Shield is a band that’s bringing the ‘90s back in force, but in a very good way. “The Stars of Never Seen” is both a tribute and a continuation of those grandiose albums that helped lead a generation deeper into metal.

Crescent Shield doesn’t exactly qualify for “super group” status, but it is composed entirely of veterans of the power metal genre. Guitar virtuoso Dan DeLucie of Destiny’s End takes up the axe to show that his skills haven’t declined any since the demise of his former band. Michael Grant and Melanie Sisneroes of New Eden take up vocals and bass, respectively, and the line-up is rounded out with Craig Anderson of Seven Witches on drums.

The vocals on “The Stars of Never Seen” have that epic quality familiar to power metal, but they’ve passed over the high pitched sound and gone for something much lower than what would normally be expected. The deeper clean signing sets the band distinctly apart from similar acts, but it may take some getting used to for fans who weren’t expecting it. On the first few listens through the vocals are a little jarring, but as the album is heard multiple times, their place in the music becomes more natural. The track “The Bellman” also features a few lines of slightly growled vocals, but that’s as far as the band ever goes in that particular direction.

As the title would indicate, “The Stars of Never Seen” passes over the standard fantasy and horror overtones and instead goes for space and science fiction themes. The music overall has a bit of a retro feel to it, returning to an earlier time in metal when everything wasn’t taken quite so seriously. From the cover art to the lyrical subject matter, the album gives off a vibe like it’s a soundtrack to a heroic space adventure video game.

The album doesn’t exclusively stick to the flamboyant antics of power metal, as a few of the songs take side treks into more solemn territory. “Tides of Fire” heads down a different direction than the rest of the songs, giving off a more mournful feel. The song is just as epic as anything else heard on the disc, but it’s less focused on inducing head banging and more focused on setting up a specific atmosphere through the guitar work. “Temple of the Empty” is another track that uses variations in the guitar tone to make the song have more of an impact on the listener than it would have otherwise. The vocals combine with the guitar sounds in just the right way to produce an inspiring quality that will make the audience want to seek out adventure and find their fate in far away worlds.

“The Stars of Never Seen” has pretty much everything that makes power metal great and very few of the genre’s bigger pit falls. Fans of the now defunct Destiny’s End will have officially found a replacement band, and anyone who wants to try out something with less extreme vocals should definitely give the album a listen.

Highs: Spot on guitar work, nice "retro" feel

Lows: The vocals take some getting used to

Bottom line: An epic space-themed power metal offering from a band composed entirely of veterans of the genre

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)