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Crystal Ball - 'Dawnbreaker' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/f6/4a/8d/crystal-ball-dawnbreaker-10-1391563829.jpg Hot

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Gotthard meets Bonfire with a dash of Accept-ish grit; 'Dawnbreaker' should put Crystal Ball back on the map.

After an absence of some six years (by my reckoning their last album – the Michael Bormann produced 'Secrets' – hit the streets right at the tail end of 2007), Swiss melody hounds Crystal Ball are back in business!

Ok, I should perhaps qualify that a little as only lead guitarist Scott Leach and drummer Marcel Sardella remain from the line-up that recorded the aforementioned 'Secrets', but with a brand new line up (they're now back to full strength as a five piece) and a brand new label (Massacre) behind them, they're mustard keen to make up for lost time. The reasons behind their extended absence are personal and complex and need not overly concern us here; suffice to say that the explosive 'Dawnbreaker' shows they've lost none of the gusto or swagger that so succinctly characterised earlier releases such as 'Virtual Empire' and 'Hellvetia'.

Leading the charge this time around is German born Steve Mageney (whose past CV includes stints with JR Blackmore and an ongoing tenure with cover band Bourbon Street). A much gruffer, nay darker front-man than his predecessor Mark Sweeney, Mageney's voice adds more of an abrasive metal edge to the Crystal Ball attack, something that has never really been present (or at least that noticeable) before. To further enhance that darker, more metallic edge, 'Dawnbreaker' has been put together under the aegis of Accept/U.D.O. man Stefan Kaufmann, so don't be surprised if the odd Teutonic twist crops up from time to time.

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That said, 'Dawnbreaker' offers the listener quite a diverse collection of songs... everything from atmospheric slow burners like 'Stranded' (think 'No More Tears' era Ozzy grafted onto Gotthard) or the brooding 'Back For Good', to out 'n' out ballsy rabble-rousers 'Break Of Dawn' and 'Skin To Skin'. Yet for all their riff strewn bluster and darkly ominous melodies, the songs still retain the stirring hooks and persuasive arrangements of the Crystal Ball of old – just spin 'Sun Came Out' or the infectious 'Anyone Can Be A Hero' and you'll see what I mean.

The limited edition digipack version adds a couple of bonus tracks – the ferocious 'Touch The Sky' (which reminded me of Sinner on steroids) and the moody 'Bond Of Love' – both of which are worth the small additional cost in my humble opinion.

Gotthard meets Bonfire with a dash of Accept-ish grit; 'Dawnbreaker' should put Crystal Ball back on the map!

Dave Cockett

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