Crimson Glory - Strange And Beautiful
Atlantic
Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
11 songs (58:40)
Release year: 1991
Crimson Glory, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Khelek
Archive review

1991 was an interesting year in metal, with some legendary acts moving forward and some falling by the wayside. Crimson Glory's last album before their long hiatus was derided by both critics and fans alike, and summarily forgotten. Strange And Beautiful certainly takes a different direction than the heavy and memorable Transcendence, though not by so much that it's a complete departure from the previous sound. The softer melodic passages are emphasized while there is also some experimentation going on with different sounds and influences. Unfortunately this experimentation and overall lack of direction turned out to be the band's biggest downfall.

The title track starts to album off with some soft, atmospheric guitar work before Midnight's vocals come in followed closely by some great riffs that get the energy flowing. One problem I'm noticing already is that the production seems a bit thin, the guitars just tend not to carry the weight I would expect them to in this song. The melody that is created sounds great and definitely holds my attention for the entire song, which is quite long, and leaves me hopeful for the rest of the album. Promise Land takes a completely different approach with a sort of tribal atmosphere being created in the beginning with drums and chanting in the background. Then the hard rock drums blast through this soundscape along with some heavy riffs. The vocals are quite melodic once again. It's not a terrible song; it just feels like something that had been done better many times in the 80s. The intro also feels disconnected from the rest of the song. So far the guitar work from Jon Drenning, who is now filling the large shoes of Ben Jackson, has been great. There is plenty of soloing and melodic riffs, I just wish the guitar was stronger in the mix.

This album has been labeled progressive by some, but I don't know what is really progressive about it. Sure there is some flashy guitar work and some different sounding instrumental arrangements/experimentation, but that does not make an album progressive. Starchamber does have a bit of a progressive feel to it however. For one thing it's quite an epic song in terms of length and it begins with some interesting guitar work that creates a really great atmosphere. The main riff of this song really sounds good and it's quite memorable, perhaps inspired by King Crimson. I wish Midnight would use his strong, lower end vocals a bit more, but that is really my only gripe with this song. Drenning's solo work is once again nothing short of amazing with some complex stuff that really fits the atmosphere. I also like the way the keyboards are used on The Chant, the only thing that doesn't work for me in this song, or any song on this album for that matter, is the chorus in the background. It just doesn't fit the music and it is way too loud in the mix, even to the point of drowning out Midnight's vocals. Otherwise this would have been a decent hard rock track.

Much of the lyrical content on this album, especially in the numerous ballads, center on love and sex. This is another mark of the 80s hair metal scene rather than progressive. Love And Dreams is the first to display these qualities and it just gets worse from there. I do really enjoy Song For Angels; it has a really classic feeling with the piano and clean electric guitar. This is a well written and great sounding song, even though ballads in the same vein had been done many times before. Deep Inside Your Heart is another ballad that really goes nowhere, but once again Drenning's solo work is excellent, reminding me a bit of Axel Rudi Pell. Unfortunately not even his performance can make this song good. The closing ballad Far Away is equally as pointless, except there's no good guitar work.

Interestingly, Jon Drenning has said in the past that Midnight was controlling everything that was done on this album, and as such it's not a "true representation of the band." That comment did seem a little ironic when I consider that Drenning's playing is the best part of this album. Nevertheless this is definitely not the horrible disaster that some older fans made it out to be. There are some really well done songs here along with very skilled musicianship. The only real problem in my opinion is that the album really lacks a sense of direction. There are a lot of sappy, pointless ballads, but at the same time there is also the occasional song of brilliance like Starchamber. I can definitely see why fans of Transcendence would be disappointed though. In the end this collection of songs does not work as an album, but there are a few bright spots.

Killing Songs :
Strange And Beautiful, Song For Angels, Starchamber
Khelek quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Crimson Glory that we have reviewed:
Crimson Glory - Transcendence reviewed by Khelek and quoted 89 / 100
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