Crystal Eyes - Dead City Dreaming
Heavy Fidelity
Heavy Metal
10 songs (45:11)
Release year: 2006
Crystal Eyes
Reviewed by Mike

Crystal Eyes is a band that never really got my attention. Even their last offering with the mighty Daniel Heiman on vocals didn't last long on my playlist. For so many years, Crystal Eyes had been a mediocre, run of the mill band. With Heiman, I thought they were still a mediocre band, but with a top tier vocalist. Confessions of the Maker wasn't a bad album at all, but it is certainly an unspectacular one to me. Once I heard that Heiman had left the band, I had very little expectations or interest in the band (hence our lateness with this review). After recording Confessions of the Maker, Heiman scored a record deal with his new band, Heed. Heiman wanted to focus his attention on his new band, thus depriving Crystal Eyes of the opportunity to go on tour with Heiman to promote their new album. The band got busy writing new material and searching for a new vocalist. Material was received from vocalists all around the world, but Søren Nico Adamsen from Denmark turned out to be the man for the job. For the songwriting phase of Dead City Dreaming, Mikael Dahl reached into the extensive Crystal Eyes archive. This new album contains parts of previously unreleased Crystal Eyes songs along with completely new material. Also during the recording of this album, it was determined that the production needed to be improved upon. As a result, the studio was reequipped, and Fredrik Nordström of Studio Fredman took care of the mixing.

As a result of the above mentioned changes and happenings with this band since it's last album, I truly believe they have released their most impressive album to date with Dead City Dreaming. For the first time in the band's history, I feel compelled to come back to the album for many, many listens. Previous Crystal Eyes albums have failed to maintain my long term interest, but this album breaks that streak. While not a classic in the making, Dead City Dreaming should do enough to win some new fans, and convince those who thought the band would fade to nothingness without Heiman. Crystal Eyes really struck gold with new vocalist Søren Nico Adamsen. This guy sounds like the second coming of one my my favorite metal vocalists, Haridon Lee (ex Scanner). His voice is soaring, melodic, and very powerful. I can see why the band said they were blown away by this guy after a few auditions. Like Haridon Lee, Adamsen colors the songs with a emotional and inspired character that just seems to be lacking from the band's older material.

Along with the lead vocals that add a lot of character to the songs, each of the songs features tight musicianship and catchy melodies and hooks. Fortunately, the songs do not sound too happy or cheesy despite their instant catchiness. Big, bombastic, choir like chorus lines are not used. Instead, conventional harmony vocals are used throughout to successfully drive home the melodies; there is no need for the band to go over the top, and they don't. The concerted effort to improve the production has paid dividends as well. Without sounding overproduced, Crystal Eyes have finally taken their production quality into the new millennium. As for the music itself, it is a rather unpredictable blending of hard rock, melodic metal, and power metal. The riffing is forceful and crunchy, as you will quickly find out from the opening track. The guitar work throughout is heavy and hard hitting, even if the particular song is more of the hard rock variety, or a full throttle power metal anthem. While most of the songs are melodic metal anthems with some hard rock influences, the band does not forget its power metal influences either. The Narrow Mind, Battlefield, Temple of Immortal Shame, and Dawn Dancer are superb, old school power metal anthems in the vein of Mental Reservation era Scanner meets early Chroming Rose. Mikael Dahl contributes some vocals to the closing track, The Halls of Valhalla. This song is a very well performed metal hymn that basically sees Crystal Eyes "out Manowar" Manowar. A slow and very earthy sounding acoustic intro builds up to a fast paced tempo within the first minute, with a great, sing-along chorus throughout. The song alternates between quieter sections and heavier, hymnal runs. Some unexpected time changes and even some impressive Heiman-esque shrieks toward the end also greet the listener, ensuring that the album closes on an impressive note.

This is certainly a band that may have fallen off some fans' radar, but Dead City Dreaming states loud and clear that Crystal Eyes can and will persevere. Without a doubt, this is the best material that I've heard from the band to date. If you are late in getting around to this album as I am, rest assured that you will not be disappointed, and very likely will be surprised with the quality that emanates from this album. Coming off the loss of Daniel Heiman, I don't think the band could have found a better replacement than Søren Nico Adamsen. This guy is the real deal, and he will keep Crystal Eyes flourishing so long as the songwriting behind him stays strong. Combined the surprisingly outstanding vocals with the strong songwriting and the new and improved production, it's no wonder that Dead City Dreaming is the band's strongest offering to date.

Killing Songs :
Into The Light, Battlefield, Dawn Dancer, Temple of Immortal Shame, The Walls of Valhalla
Mike quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Crystal Eyes that we have reviewed:
Crystal Eyes - Confessions Of The Maker reviewed by Marty and quoted 84 / 100
Crystal Eyes - Vengeance Descending reviewed by Marty and quoted 82 / 100
Crystal Eyes - In Silence They March reviewed by Chris and quoted 43 / 100
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