Freedom Call - _Crystal Empire_
by: Alvin Wee (
As much as I'd like to give _Crystal Empire_ another perfect score, something inside just refuses to click. Despite the flawless scripting and performance of each anthemic track, _CE_ just gives the impression of another band going the HammerFall / Nocturnal Rites way: too much of a good thing can hurt. An entire album of "everybody-sing!" choruses and saccharine-sweet melodies is hard enough to bring off as convincing, let alone a sequel of almost-identical nature. Notables include the incredibly cheesy yet somehow embarrassingly catchy "Pharaoh" with its plodding, epic chorus; the blazing "Call of Fame" is reminiscent of latter-day Gamma Ray in its punchy delivery. Closer "The Wanderer" adopts an almost Blind Guardian-esque folksiness, only to lapse into another fairy-tale chorus to make Helloween sound like Venom. If you find yourself inadvertently singing along... don't say I didn't warn you! Semi-legendary Charlie Bauerfeind seems intent on outdoing himself behind the consoles once more, gifting the album with a rock-solid production that puts 1999's _Stairway to Fairyland_ to shame. Still, all the lavish packaging cannot disguise the fact that Freedom Call plays a style of music that's ambrosia only in small quantities -- and no more than that.
(article published 5/13/2001)
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