Crystal Viper - Crimen Excepta
AFM Records
Old-School Heavy Metal
10 songs (51:35)
Release year: 2012
AFM Records
Reviewed by Bar

Crystal Viper is one of those workmanlike bands that is steadfastly committed to the style of music that they love, seemingly oblivious of broader commercial concerns. It’s hard not to respect the strength of their conviction. In the last 5 years they have made a name for themselves with a solid string of releases that pay homage to classic, melodic heavy metal stylings. They haven’t yet put out a worthless album, and Crimen Excepta ranks alongside their best efforts.

As you may have surmised from the above, Crimen Excepta is an album very firmly rooted in the old-school style. Every detail of their approach is a blast from the past, even down to the production, with the sound of the record lacking the professional sheen of similar bands like White Wizzard or Steelwing. This puts a keener focus on their actual material, and fortunately their song writing holds up quite well. It’s the same classic old blend of mid-paced riffs, melodic vocals and soaring guitar solos that fans of this genre are used to, but hell, it is what it is. All Crystal Viper are really trying to do is get your head banging and they certainly have a winning formula to achieve it. While this simple charm is an asset, the band does seem to rely on it a little heavily and the end result is a lack of variety that hurts the album a bit. The band does flirt with variety, employing a couple of very effective organ riffs on It’s Your Omen and Fire Be My Gates, and both occasions are highlights. One feels as though there would need to be a few more moments such as these before the album might be considered essential.

For better or worse, the aspect of Crystal Viper that will most immediately distinguish them from many of their competitors in this field is the fact that they are female fronted. Marta Gabriel’s position in the band, though, is not merely some clever marketing ploy. She has a ripping singing voice, and what’s even better is that it is specifically suited to Heavy Metal. Have a listen to the high-pitched shrieks she unleashes at times on Witch’s Mark or Child of the Flame. Doesn’t she sound positively Halford-esque? As a huge Judas Priest fan, the hallowed name of the Metal God himself is not one I throw around arbitrarily, so yeah, the lady’s got some serious pipes. In addition, she’s also taking up the role of rhythm guitarist for the first time on a Crystal Viper studio release, and she does a pretty great job on the strings too. Ultimately, any suggestion that she’s just a token inclusion in the band’s line-up is very quickly debunked.

If you’re in the market for traditional heavy metal played the old-school way, you’re pretty much spoiled for choice these days. It’s true that there are more impressive bands in this genre right now, but the fact is there are significantly worse ones too, and Crimen Excepta is much better than a lot of the crap being offered up. If you’re a fan of the old-school revival, you’ll find plenty to like here, so don’t hesitate to pick it up.

Killing Songs :
Child of the Flame, It's Your Omen, The Spell of Death, Fire Be My Gates
Bar quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Crystal Viper that we have reviewed:
Crystal Viper - Possession reviewed by Andy and quoted 86 / 100
Crystal Viper - Legends reviewed by Cory and quoted 70 / 100
Crystal Viper - Metal Nation reviewed by Thomas and quoted 90 / 100
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