This time AFM Records present us a live CD of Crystal Viper. It was recorded at the Magic Circle Festival in Germany. Having in mind that besides the intro there are only five live songs this release should be an EP. The Polish band added four studio tracks and somehow this album turns to a visit card of Crystal Viper because it has songs from all their previous releases and even from the forthcoming new album. One is for sure – the female fronted Polish band has good live performance.
In the wave of 80’s heavy metal we face today Crystal Viper are amongst the few bands which have a distinctive feature. In this case this is the voice of the vocalist Marta Gabriel. Her performance in this live album does not differ much from the studio versions of the same tracks. The professional music training has its word even when we speak of heavy metal in the veins of Helloween, Running Wild and Blind Guardian. In reference to Marta’s vocal lines we could catch some Doro and Zed Yago influences.
Something is missing in the live part of this album. Listening to the tracks you could hardly hear the crowd and somehow the magic of the festival is lost. The sound engineer has not done his job properly. And it is evident in the mix of the band’s performance as well. The unbalanced sound cannot deprive Crystal Viper of their excellent work results but is one of the bad sides of their release. Well, live albums are always a challenge!
In reference to the second part of the album which is NOT live I could say that the chosen songs are awesome but they will not impress you – it is an old-school heavy metal. “Secret of the Black water” (taken from the forthcoming studio album) is the newest song of Crystal Viper. It is a middle tempo story in the spirit of Running Wild. And maybe it should be better if it was higher as a vocal performance. But it is a nice piece of metal! The next song “The Wolf and the Witch” is “previously unreleased” as it is written in the press sheet, but it was released as 7" single in 2009 by High Roller Records. “Stronghold: Under Siege” is taken from the limited edition CD single of the band. And the last track on the “Defenders of the Magic Circle: Live In Germany” CD is a Virgin Steel cover song which indeed is quite pleasant for listening.
The good news is that we are expecting a new studio full length album of Crystal Viper this year via AFM Records. If you do not collect live CDs you might have a chance to listen to the forthcoming CD “Legends” which would be a worthy successor to the previous studio releases of Crystal Viper!