Greeks Crimson Fire, despite being on the go since 2004, are only now releasing their second album, Fireborn, the successor to 201’s appositely-titled Metal is Back.
And what an album it is, too. Much like Canadian cousins Striker, Crimson Fire recognise that heavy metal’s halcyon days were between 1982 and 1989, and their power metal-tinged assault acknowledges that fact in suitably celebratory style. Fireborn is a delicious plunge back to those days, heavily reminiscent for sure but never offensively nostalgic, and it rocks.
From the chugging guitars, chanted gang vocals and acoustic outro of the storming Right off the Bat through to the synth washes and teary-eyed balladry of Her Eyes, Crimson Fire leave no stone unturned in their efforts to bring classic metal back to the masses, in the process delivering a dozen (if you include the instrumental intro) prime slabs of muscular, melodic metal that’s as likely to have you whistling along as it will have you banging your head, the whole sheathed in a sleek, gleaming bombastic production that brings to mind the likes of Icon, Lion, Leatherwolf and their ilk.
Vocalist Johnny B. Britsas stars throughout, with his vocal on the superb Young Free Lust being particularly spine-tingling; Stelios Koutelis wields his axe with intent and no little skill – have a listen to his great rhythm playing and slick lead work on Hunter for proof – whilst the rhythm section of Nemo on bass and drummer Kostas Exarhakos get their heads down and provide the ballast as only the best heavy metal rhythm sections can.
Bad Girl is a quite superb uptempo, spandex-clad romp, all roving double kick and extravagant fretboard mastery backed by those omnipresent backing chants, whilst Master Your Destiny is a quite superb example of metallic metal at its quasi-balladic best. Koutelis pulls out an absolutely blinding solo on this track – truly up there with the best you’ll hear this year – whilst the chorus – guaranteed to incite air-punching wherever it’s heard – is a solid-gold radio-ready classic in the making.
I could go through track-by-track and dissect the brilliance of the rest of the material on offer, but I’m fairly sure you’ve already got the picture. 2016 is already becoming something of an anus mirabilis for traditional metal, and Crimson Fire have contributed to this with one of the best efforts of its type so far in 2016. Buy or die!
Fireborn is released through Pitch Black Records on June 3rd.