(8/10) If Gotthard playes in the hardrock Champions-League than it's Crystal Ball that has a permanent spot for Switzerland in the Euro-League of harder rock music.
The new albumm "LifeRider", number eight in Crystal Ball's discography, became surprisingly heavy. I haven't expect the guys releasing that hard stuff as like on the fiveteen tunes of this album.
The start with "Mayday!" gets off the starting line very well by not even being the best track on the album. "Eye to eye" raises the level with a harsh riff and a galloping beat that reminds the U.D.O.. Talking about the Mr. Dirkschneider's band means also mentioning "Balls of steel". This metal pearl could have been on one of his records too - eventhough I must say that there is something distracting in the vocalline. However, a song full of energy and a typical headbanger.
"Hold you flag", the next number, is another highlight on the album. It is kept slower, has something from Pretty Maids in the verse - a song that gets right off the bat.
A song that I personally don't like that much is the ballad "Bleeding'. It's not bad but the other tracks on the album are more touching and instense. "Bleeding" isn't the peperoni on the this album.
To what extend the bonus songs have been needed is something you have decide for your own. The digipak version includes two songs that are a homage to Ronnie James Dio. "Sacred heart" from the album of the same title and Black Sabbath's "Sign of the Southern cross" are well done covers, but also not really special. Nice to have them, but they don't add to the good impression of the album and the originals are untouchable anyhow.
What I would like to mention are the vocals by Steven Mageney. Being the new guy on the predecessor "Dawnbreaker" I got the feeling that he is in the meantime fully integrated in the band. His performance is outstanding and his voice is pure rock'n'roll.
"LifeRider" became a surprisingly heavy album. It's a longplayer with a good punch, a lot of energy and a good sense for melodies that don't drown in cliche. "LifeRider" cements Crystal Ball's place in the Euro-League of metal. Thumbs up.
- Eye to eye
- Balls of steel
- Hold your flag
- Gods of rock
- Take ti all
- Rock of life
- Memory run
Label: Massacre Records