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Crystal Viper - "Crimen Excepta" (CD)

Crystal Viper - "Crimen Excepta" CD cover image

"Crimen Excepta" track listing:

1. Witch’s Mark (4:43)
2. Child Of The Flame (5:43)
3. It's Your Omen (4:21)
4. Crimen Excepta (feat. David Bower of Hell) (6:52)
5. Medicus Animarum (4:38)
6. The Spell Of Death (4:45)
7. Hope Is Gone, Here’s New Law (3:54)
8. Fire Be My Gates (6:17)
9. Tyrani Piekiel (Vader Cover) (feat. Peter of Vader) (Bonus Track) (4:51)
10. Ghosts Of Sherwood (Bonus Track) (from the "Robin Hood: Ghosts Of Sherwood" motion picture soundtrack) (4:41)

Reviewed by on May 1, 2012

"It is the charging anthems, rhythmic beats, and fetching choruses played with such clarity and exuberance that it calls to the traditional and pure power metal fan."

As Metal Underground’s resident “pussy whipped” scribe, yours truly gleefully takes on another metal band that showcases the sacred feminine, this time in the form of the pride of Karowice, Crystal Viper. After releasing the solid LP “Legends” album in 2010, the band strikes back with “Crimen Excepta,” a blazing slab of traditional/power with a dash of thrash and a cargo of engaging melodies.

There was a time when female vocalists could be counted on one hand and nearly all effeminate imagery was provided by male hair metal bands (not that there is anything wrong with that). Times have certainly changed and some labels have chauvinistically branded a separate genre as if to warn the unsuspecting male dominated listener with a wink and a nudge while whispering “hey man, we think this is ‘metal,’ but be careful...*gulp*…this one is ‘female-fronted’!” As common as maternal troubadours are today, it is still a refreshing rarity to find one that is not simply a diva (see Angela Gossow, Somi Arian, Ipek Warnock and Jill Janus ). Sure, Marta Gabriel can soar, but in a way that harkens to Leather Leone-era Chastain with the occasional “crystal clear” ear piercing scream.

“Crimen Excepta” is a tale about the purging of witches during the inquisition, a topic well covered through the years, but still an adequate backdrop for metal played the way the gods intended. With fire drawn from Mercyful Fate and vocals inspired by the great Doro Pesch, the album consists of more than a back story, but its a release that screams to be played live. “Witches’ Mark” is bound to be a crowd favorite for years. The galloping riffs of Andy Wave during the verses to both the title track and album beloved “Medicus Animarum” will surely ring in your head long after the first go and will easily conjure appropriate fist pumps and crowd chants. Parts of “The Spell of Death” even capture the pure essence of Running Wild’s “Fight the Oppression.”

Bonus tracks on the release include the cover of fellow country mates Vader through “Tyrani Piekel,” featuring legendary rager Piotr Wiwczarek on guest vocals. The song is refreshed and renewed as a speed metal anthem without shedding its death metal roots. The other is “Ghosts of Sherwood,” which will find its way on the soundtrack of yet another, albeit darker, Robin Hood redux.

Crystal Viper has created precisely the type of album that I play when someone dares question why metal is so important to my life. It is the charging anthems, rhythmic beats, and fetching choruses played with such clarity and exuberance that it calls to the traditional and pure power metal fan. For some, metal is the only offering of contentment in an otherwise miserable and negative world. “Crimen Except”ional!

Highs: An outstanding display of power and traditional metal.

Lows: Despite the presence of Vader's Pitor, "Crimen Excepta" will not appeal to fans of death/extreme metal.

Bottom line: Crystal Viper's fourth album is "Crimen Except"ional!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

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)