Crystal Ball - 'Liferider'

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Crystal Ball - 'Liferider'

Solid effort ... nuff said really.

Back in the mists of time when I was an impressionable kid (and no, dinosaurs didn't quite roam the earth... the odd sabre-toothed tiger maybe), the line between Heavy Metal and Hard Rock was fairly well defined. The former had the angst and intensity necessary to mobilise the masses whilst the latter generally had the bigger hooks and melodies; over the ensuing decades however that line has become so blurred as to be rendered ostensibly irrelevant.

Think about it for a minute... there are now some truly great Metal bands out there with a whole catalogue of incredibly catchy songs to their name, yet at the same time there are countless examples of Classic Hard Rock acts with enough "oomph" to send your senses reeling. And then there are those who purport to have a foot in both camps... bands like Swiss Rockers Crystal Ball.

Cut from the same illustrious cloth as fellow countrymen Krokus and Gotthard, the CB riff quotient has always remained impressively high, but auspiciously never at the expense of great tunes. Having sort of ground to a halt after 2007's 'Secrets' opus, a much changed version of the band re-surfaced some six years later with the hard hitting 'Dawnbreaker'; a well-judged pre-emptive strike that really put their name back on the Rock 'n' Roll map. Thankfully, the wait for a follow up has been nowhere near as long, as the recent emergence of the well timed 'Liferider' should hold them in particularly good stead on the impending summer circuit.

Knowing their audience as they do, CB don't attempt to reinvent the wheel; if like me, a dose of classic European Metal à la Gotthard mixed with the bombastically outgoing hooks and melodies of Bonfire or Jaded Heart gets those "ol' juices" flowing, then 'Liferider; is most definitely for you. Punchy, "in your face" riffs and a cocky swagger is the CB stock in trade, and tracks like 'Mayday', 'Balls Of Steel' 'Eye To Eye' (featuring Battle Beast's Noora Louhimo) and 'Rock Of Life' reinforce that, yet as I said earlier, they all come with strong hooks and melodies.

Furthermore, for those of you needing a little extra persuasion, the choice of bonus tracks is interesting with the late, great Ronnie James Dio getting the nod twice (once as Dio, once with Black Sabbath)... intriguing choice as in many respects Crystal Ball could be seen as the Swiss Dio (the band).

Solid effort...nuff said really!

Dave Cockett

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