Today we discover a five piece, female fronted metal band called Crushing Blow. They formed in 1987 in France and have had a few line-up changes along the way. Their latest release, ‘Cease Fire’ has been recorded through Inferno Records and has been given to me for review. They are described as being filled with emotion and power and even as a part of the New Wave Of French Heavy Metal. I've never heard them before today and am eager to check them out.
Intro - As the title suggest, this is the introduction to the album and it is an instrumental welcome. It is orchestral and creates a grandeur introduction, especially when the guitars enter.
The Wizards Tale - We are straight into this track with enthusiastic and catchy guitar rhythms and an upbeat tempo. The female vocals enter and they are mid-ranged in tone and clean. The drums alternate between a standardised pace to double kick drumming which makes it alluring. The guitars are also varied in their parts and present some good lead work. Overall this is a very good musical representation for this band. Combining both the intro and this track together, they present somewhat of a grand sound in the sense of royalty which creates an epic-like feel to it all. If this keeps up, it will truly be majestic.
Redemption - Guitar wails lure us in to this next track with a fairly slow pace. The pace then picks up as the guitar rhythms enter. The vocals appear through an effect to start. I should note the lyrics are all sung in English but I do not have a copy of them here. They are mostly decipherable though, but as always it does help to have a copy of the lyrics in front of you when you hear a song. As a vocal comparison, I would go with Pat Benatar. There is a good lead in here which is proving to be one good thing about this band; they are not afraid to share a lead. basically it is another good track with a heightened emotional feel to it which works with that epic trait I mentioned before.
Shadow - To start this next song off, we have a slowed, melodic piece with only a gentle guitar melody and vocals. A moderate drum beat plays between verses. Soon, the pace quickens as the emotions are raised. It is an atmospheric track and keeps with that epic feel. Musically, they are very tight and have structured their songs well. They tend to keep them basic yet catchy and well composed yet emotive. A lot of the 80’s was about such a style and it’s nice to hear it hasn’t all died with the times.
Dreams - This next song has more of a Judas Priest sound to the music and therefore a power metal edge to it all. You would definitely find yourself in the mosh if you saw them live. They have a good set of rhythms to thrash out to, not to mention some nice leads to enjoy. This track is well paced and upbeat and my foot is getting a good work out to all the drum kick mimicking.
Cease Fire - Here we have the title track for the album and it starts out with the sound of a helicopter overhead. It is a slow paced track filled with emotion and atmosphere. It gains momentum as the song goes on but never truly quickens. At about 03:25 a brief lead kicks in. It does get vocally and musically intense but it does also remain moderate in tempo.
Rise Your Soul - Just passed the half way mark on the album now and the pace in this one is faster than its predecessor but still fairly moderate. I like how the guitarist tears out a faster paced lead amidst the moderately paced music for a brief stint. I also really like how the drummer alternates between a standard kick to double kicks and utilises the rolls to shift. He is very good at keeping time and controlling the beats. The sound engineering on this album is also very good as all parts are heard evenly.
Tears Of Heart - There is an atmospheric introduction into this next track with some effects, a charged rhythm guitar and some cymbals. The pace is upbeat and I am really into the drumming throughout this album. They’ve got a good sound to them as well as being perfectly played. The vocals are, as always, filled with angst yet presented fluently with a hint of harshness amidst the voice. I am a little saddened by the end of this track as they have cut the song off as the lead began to play and thus the ending does not work well at all; something to work on.
Memories - The overall sound to this track is reminiscent to the band Warlock. Though there is no vocal comparison, there is a hint of the Doro sound in parts of the vocal in this track. The pace to this one is upbeat but it is not fast paced. It has a very 80’s feel to the track in its structure and sound. This band obviously work well together as it sounds very tight, well rehearsed, co-ordinated and presented. It’s nice to hear people being able to draw from their inspiration and create their own interpretations.
My Venom - This next track is sombre and melancholic. It is definitely emotionally driven and thus gains momentum as time goes on. However, it does remain slow paced and subdued throughout. Sadly, the ending is again cutting out a guitar lead. Did they change sound engineers at this point? Sure, there are some bands which do manage to fade out a lead and end the track this way, but the lead must be consistently playing for some time before the fade out begins. This was simply not long enough. This is basically another ending to work on, otherwise it would’ve been a nice, gentle track.
The Prophecies - Here we have the final song on the album and it starts out with the sounds of a choir and a tribal atmosphere. Surprisingly, the vocals to begin with are male this time. The female vocals soon appear. This makes a nice change to the flow of the album. Musically, this has an opulent sound to it. This goes back to what I was saying about that epic feel to the album. It hasn’t continued throughout the album, but it has been amidst a few tracks. I do feel like this track also ended abruptly and should have continued on for a little longer, though I guess that may work for the band leaving the listener wanting more. But I do think these last three tracks need a little more time spent on them to perfect their endings. In this case, when you have such an atmospheric and epic sounding track, you cannot have it so short. Epic by definition is not short, it must be ambitious and grand. This track has the potential to be just that.
In essence, this is a pretty good album. Aside from a few abrupt or misguided endings towards the end of the album, the songs are well structured and relayed. The band seems to possess potential but were perhaps hurried or restricted by something at one point. Regardless, there is an 80’s sound to it all with a hard rocking, power metal edge to it. If I were to liken them to other bands, I’d say it was an amalgamation of Pat Benatar, Warlock, Judas Priest and various other mainstream metal from back then but without the glam. Overall, it is all their own sound, just utilising their influences well. The CD I received is a promotional copy so I can’t comment on the CD you would purchase in-store. So I don’t know if it would come with lyrics or not. On the front cover is a portioned picture of a person grasping their claws into their belt. The CD itself bares a basic design with the band logo and album title over a plain print. As for purchasing the album, I have no qualms with it and can only recommend you check them out for yourself on the links below.
Crushing Blow Myspace
Review by Déa di Morté © 21 July 2011
All pictures courtesy of Crushing Blow and Inferno Records