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Band: Crystal Palace

CD Title: “Reset”

Band Website: www.crystalpalace.de

Label: Independent Release

Release Date: 2010

 

 

This German band has been sort of ‘flying under the radar’ since about 1992 and over that time have independently released four CD’s of varying length. Reset is their fifth official outing and it shows a band who knows their chops and certainly seems to have charted a musical direction. Think of a mixture of bands like Arena or Jadis with just a hint of Dream Theater and you get an idea of what’s happening musically here. Crystal Palace, now down to a quartet is made up of Jürgen Hegner (guitars), Frank Köhler (keyboards), Feliks Weber (drums) and Jens Uwe Strutz (vocals, bass). In a word this is an impressive collection of mostly hard-edged prog rock without ever really landing in the prog-metal category.  

 

We’re looking at a total of eight tracks on Reset that cover a broad swath of prog moods. Crystal Palace knows when to rock and they know when to let their music breathe. This is best on display on “Darkest Hour” [12:46] which starts out all atmospherically and spacey with ethereal voices drifting in and out before a brief narration sets the lyric’s message. There is then a repeating synth riff that builds in intensity and volume which sets up the more guitar-crunchy first official part of the song at about the 2:45 mark. A couple of times during this heavier onslaught the band breaks into a charming melody that lifts the song to another level and plays nicely against the heavy crunch. Then at the 7:37 mark the song pulls back to an acoustic guitar and spacey keyboard layers offering a nice al-be-it brief respite before sliding into an earlier melody and ending the song on a mellower note. The next track, “Sons of God” [8:50] starts off in grand fashion with a series of repeating crescendos before getting into the song proper. This is more of an up-tempo piece, conveying an almost military precision and intensity. As they do in most of these tracks, Crystal Palace are constantly making abrupt tempo changes in their tunes that usually ties into the lyrical direction. And regardless of the length of the track the band seems to have a knack of giving it more than a couple good melodies to keep you humming after the fact.      

 

I have to say this is precisely the kind of heavy prog I really enjoy in that it never really goes over the edge. There is just-the-right balance of the hard and the soft moods, which to my mind is what prog is all about. After all if a disc is all hard or all soft it’s probably something other than prog right. Crystal Palace has crafted a great set of tunes on Reset and after five releases it’s about time they are heard by the larger prog community. This is a great disc that I think will appeal too many especially if you enjoy the music of the band’s I mentioned at the outset. Great job.  

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