I’ve posted on Crimson Glory before when I was doing my Record Vault posts.
The line-up which is known to me as the classic line up had vocalist Midnight, guitarist Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords and drummer Dana Burnell.
They never broke out big in North America, with Asia and Europe being their main market. Their presence in Europe was probably due to Roadrunner Europe being their label and they got behind the band, booking them to play shows in major markets like Germany, France, UK, Holland, Belgium and Sweden.
Their overnight European success was 5 years in the making.
The masquerade mask angle along with hard rock perms and teased hair and leather vests was strange to begin with, but I understood their message, that the music should lead the way, not how they looked but by the third album the masks ceased to be and hard rock abs were on display in photo shoots.
The self-titled debut came out in 1986 but I didn’t hear it until 89, after I purchased “Transcendence” and I went back and got the debut.
Also by 1989, a lot of the bands I liked started to change or were past their heyday.
Scorpion’s didn’t really amuse me with “Savage Amusement” in 87, UFO still powdered their noses and had no recording contract, Queensryche went hard rock (which was a good thing) but I also liked their metal style and I was seeking bands like that, Iron Maiden lost an important band member and went even more streamlined with “No Prayer For The Dying” and Black Sabbath was still trying to replenish their worth and value after the “Born Again” debacle while Dio was starting to lose his star power from 5 years before.
So I went looking elsewhere for my unique metal fix and Crimson Glory filled the void.
And I like to play the guitar, so any album that makes me pick up the guitar to learn the songs gets my attention, and this is what the Crimson Glory albums do.
There is a countdown. Then a chromatic moving arpeggio/lick in harmony.
And the speed kicks in.
The fastest song on the album, relentless like “Screaming For Vengeance” and that ball tearing falsetto from Midnight rattled my windows. A mixture between King Diamond and Rob Halford on this.
The lead breaks are Judas Priest like.
“Queen of the Masquerade”
It’s more hard rock than heavy metal with the “I Love Rock N Roll” chords in the verses and some serious shred.
The intro gets me with the harmony leads.
At the 2.00 mark, there is this guitar riff which moves up chromatically, reminding me of how “The Call Of Ktulu” does the same thing. Mustaine actually used that chromatic movement for “In My Darkest Hour” and then he took his “The Call Of Ktulu” riff and made it “Hangar 18”.
Check out the harmony solo’s on this.
Along with “Valhalla”, it’s a two punch combo knockout.
The intro is a mix of acoustic guitars, symphonic voices, violins and Midnight’s unique voice which sounds like Geoff Tate from “The Warning” album.
This then leads in to one of the best metal tracks I have heard with harmony guitars and galloping riffs.
Check out the riff at 2.23, done in harmony. It goes for about 10 seconds, a brief change between verses.
The lead break from 3.11. It’s guitar hero worthy but guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson are virtually unknown to the masses as Crimson Glory didn’t really cross over like Queensryche in the U.S market.
It starts off with a Midnight wail, harmony guitars and then a Deep Purple “Stormbringer” like riff in the verses.
Make sure you check out the Chorus, which has a combination of harmony guitars and an AOR rock chorus.
But it’s the harmony lead lick that comes after the Chorus that really gets me hooked.
Plus the outro lead break. Check it out. It as good as Jake E Lee’s “Bark At The Moon” outro.
A haunting acoustic piece, built on two chords and Midnight’s gloomy and mournful vocals.
From 3.10, distorted guitars crash in with reverbed drums and after 30 seconds it fades out to how it started.
“Heart Of Steel”
It starts off with acoustic guitars and harmony leads.
It reminds me of 70’s Scorpions with Uli Jon Roth on guitars, with a nod to the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. And it’s probably their most catchiest.
I like the way Midnight sings “Heart of steeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeeeel” with an increase in pitch as he holds steel.
Check out the little harmony lead at around the 4.10 mark. And the last 15 seconds is that good, the only thing you can do is press repeat.
At 5 minutes long it doesn’t get boring.
Especially the guitar playing and those harmony leads.
“Angels of War”
It’s very reminiscent of Iron Maiden.
There is a lot of great guitar playing but the little section from 3.25 is excellent.
And my favourite is when the bass and drums kick in at 3.55, then the harmony guitars start and then the Chorus vocal. A perfect minute to end the song.
It’s not on the vinyl version that I have. But it’s on Spotify.
Like other songs, it is a mixture of acoustic guitars in the verses with an anthemic chorus full of distorted chords. It feels like Dio vocally, but musically, it’s more in the spirit of the 70’s.
The section from 3.45 is brief but so good.
And then the lead breaks start.
“Dream Dancer can fly away / wings of fire she burns the nightshade”
And like that, the 1986 part 2 series comes to an end as I fly away to 1976.