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Evil Masquerade - "The Digital Crucifix" (CD)

Evil Masquerade - "The Digital Crucifix" CD cover image

"The Digital Crucifix" track listing:

1. Like Voodoo
2. Buying Salvation
3. The Extra Mile
4. The Shame
5. The Nature is Calling
6. Bad News
7. The Hangover
8. Anywhere the Wind Blows
9. Lady of the Night
10. Gasoline & Ice Cold Gin
11. Sign of the Time

Reviewed by on June 12, 2014

"There is a definite plan at work here, a continuation of bad ass rock ‘n’ metal where it is too heavy to be labeled hard rock and too 'experimental' to be called power metal."

It takes a lot for a band to overcome the departure of an iconic singer (or member), but it is certainly not impossible. Look at MasterPlan for instance….for many Jorn was the pinnacle and the band was cast off, even before an album came out when either Mike DiMeo (as in 2007) or Rick Altzi (as in 2013) joined that band. For Evil Masquerade, it was Apollo Papathansio (ex-Firewind), who pretty much departed every band he was in except Spiritual Beggars and the long out of commission Majestic. On “Pentagram,” there was a rebirth for Evil Masquerade – like a dark lyrical Rainbow/Dio ascended from hell and the band seemed to be running on all cylinders. Coming into “The Digital Crucifix” I had a little less trepidation, since his replacement Tobias Jansson (Saffire) is a phenomenal singer in his own right. It took just a few listens, but “The Digital Crucifix” has built up yet another layer on the foundation of “Pentagram” and continues the path of bad ass power hard rock that I’ve come to love.

Taking nothing away from guitarist, main songwriter, and Evil Masquerade pulse Henrik Flyman, the man who really added the pizzazz since “Pentagram” is still present: Artur Meinild. His keyboard work has added an element that took EM from a pure power metal band to a Vegas lounge act dipped in steel and purified in hell (check out “The Extra Mile” - and trust me, this is a big compliment). The variety that is strewn throughout the album is even more than its predecessor, which makes for an incredibly entertaining listen. The difference on “The Digital Crucifix” is that there is no drop off (if you recall my review of “Pentagram,” I likened the album to riding down a ski slope). While “Like Voodoo” and “Buying Salvation” start the album off in similar high octane fashion as “Pentagram,” “The Digital Crucifix” has little very few points where the listener gets mired in daydreams.

“The Nature is Calling” and “Gasoline & Ice Cold Gin” are among the early favorites, but nothing prepared me for the brilliance on “Lady of the Night.” It has that perfect blend of “Moonlight Fantasy” and “Unholy Water” that propelled the band’s interest level dramatically. Another anthem brandishing bravado is the closer “Sign of the Time.” Tobias does a fantastic job capturing those deep nuances in his voice which mirror Apollo, without being an absolute clone. He doesn’t try to force his voice into what Apollo would have done, as his natural style fits the Evil Masquerade direction like a glove and I cannot wait to hear what he does with the “Pentagram” material.

For those that had any doubt about the power of Henrik Flyman in the post-Apollo era….Evil Masquerade smashes them to pieces on “The Digital Crucifix.” There is a definite plan at work here, a continuation of bad ass rock ‘n’ metal where it is too heavy to be labeled hard rock and too “experimental” to be called power metal. Evil Masquerade has carved out a sound with enough prevailing elements of both to have a unique brand of music – all of it shrouded in a different, but equally potent, darkness and evil.

Highs: More bad ass rock 'n' metal. New vocalist Tobias fits the Apollo mold like a glove.

Lows: Not much here for the fans of extreme.

Bottom line: Evil Masquerade continues the path to bad assery started with "Pentagram" - Apollo who?

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)