Crimson Star – ‘Bay View’ (Salop Road Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Wednesday, 31 January 2018 04:20

Crimson Star artworkNot to be confused with one of the Norn Iron phenomenon that is the flute band, this trio hail from the spiritual (and physical) home of heavy metal, Birmingham, and are kicking up a helluva racket on this, their second EP.


Claiming influences that range from early Soundgarden through Royal Blood and QOTSA (which band with a stoner edge to their sound doesn’t draw from the Queens’ well) to Muse, Crimson Star are another clear indication of how far metal, as a genre, has evolved and transformed itself, while at the same time, and importantly, stayed true to its roots.


There are two things that strike you immediately about this impressive little slab of five songs. The first is the band’s innate sense of rhythm – something a lot of modern metal bands seem to have forgotten, in their quest to disappear off at all sorts of weird and wonderful musical tangents, and up their own arses at the same time. For Crimson Star, however, big, chunky rhythms are at the forefront of the songs, driving each them along with purpose and cohesion, thus allowing the melodies to wind themselves around the basic song structures, without losing that underlying sense of purpose.


The second thing you notice immediately is James Shaw’s incredible voice. While many of his contemporaries are content to shred their throats with overdubbed layers of senseless screamo shouting, Shaw demonstrates a stunning range and the sensibility to use his voice as another instrument, complementing what is going on around and behind him. He can switch from the seeringly acidic, such as when he snarls “I would tear the skin from the bone just to feel you” on opener (and lead single) ‘The Pragmatist’, to the deeply melodious, such as on the majestic closer, ‘Gimme Some’, to beautifully breathless, such as on ‘Once’ and ‘Euthanise Me’.



Of course, it’s not just about the vocals – and the three instrumental performances are all as consistent. Roger Ash’s is rich and thick, with plenty of bottom end thrum and hum, but also with some nice funk and jazz touches when he is occasionally allowed to let rip in that department, while Ross Edington’s percussion is solid, with the right combination of snap and solidity. Shaw’s guitar, meanwhile, emphasizes the importance the band places on rhythm, with his beefy riffs underpinning Ash’s massive bass sound, and only occasionally poking forward with suitably brief solos which show of his skill but never outstay their welcome. And it’s all superbly brought together by another nigh perfect production job from the man who seemingly can do no wrong when he gets behind a mixing desk, Romesh Dodangoda.


‘Bay View’ is a highly impressive slice of heavy metal, wearing its influences on its sleeves but using them to propel the band forward, which they do with an admirable energy. It may be only five tracks, hinting at much more to come, but it most definitely is a marker for many young bands as to what you can achieve when you seek to evolve the genre rather than merely copy that which has gone before.


‘Bay View’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.


Crimson Star play West Street Live in Sheffield, with Thunder On The Left, Kickstart Friday and Mantra, on Wednesday 14 February, the Actress & Bishop in Birmingham, with Trueheights, The Sunlight Machine and Guns For Girls, on Friday 9 March.


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