I must admit that there´s two things about reviewing I can´t stand. Sometimes I have to listen several times to horrible albums… and I have to write about them. The other thing is when I have to review albums impossible to define with sentences like: “it´s a good album because blah, blah, blah” or “it´s a bad album because blah, blah, blah”. Music is an art, and sometimes we find in the same piece of art good things and awful things.. and Crystal Phoenix´s second album is a good example.
Before resolving the riddle I´ll tell you that this italian band is lead by a girl named Myriam Sagenwells Saglimberi (vocals, guitars, bass, harp), and the rest of the musicians are Tina Vadala (vocals, cymbals), Roberto Mazza (drums), and Raymond Sgrò (piano, keyboards, bass, recorders, and flute).
This album is conceptual although the songs aren´t linked and it´s subtitled The Legend of the Two Stonedragons. It goes about the neverending war between good and evil inside a futuristic and apocalyptic scenario. All the story is written in the booklet.
And, of course, if I say that an album can have inside of it good things and awful things, the best I can do is divide those two parts. We can find the most interesting things in the music (warning: I´m not talking about the musicians). The songs are well structured and the band plays a blend of sympho/prog with some chops of folk and metal, with good vocal melodies and nice arrangements. But the darkest side of the album are the vocalists. I don´t know if it´s Myriam or Tina (it´s not credited) the singer of the first track “Black Out”, but she sings out of tune a lot, so the music (a la Saviour Machine) doesn´t matter at all. In the rest of the songs the vocal work gets better but anyway it´s the weakest point of the band and if I were them I´d seriously think about it.
Anyway there are interesting tracks such as the instrumentals “Remembrance” and “The maid and the willow”; the lyrical and beautiful “New Time´s Hero”, with a delicate vocal melody and instrumentation broken again by the voice; in “Renegade (beyond the glass)” sings the other vocalist and she does it much better in a song a la Renaissance. It´s a pity that songs like “War Again”, “Dragon Lord” or “Spring´s Dance”, all with beautiful string arrangements along with tracks like “Reminiscence” or “Lullaby”, destroyed by the voice and metal arrangements out of place.
If I were in the band I´d add a vocalist with the style of Haslam or Candice Night so the band could offer 100% a music that is really good and it´s very pleasant. All the composing work, arrangements, instrumentation (they even play ancient harps and flutes) comes down when the voice enters, specially in energetic moments. Another personal opinion is that they should forget about the metal influences and focus on the baroque-sympho style, in the vein of bands like Renaissance or Blackmore´s Night.
As I stated, this is a bizarre album. You should listen to it at your local store forgetting the short intro and the awful first song, to make your own opinion.