Crescent Shield is a traditional heavy/power metal band whose latest album, The Stars of Never Seen, caught up some pretty decent reviews. The album is a little older, coming out in 2009, but it's new to me and I've been in the mood for something a little different then the usual stoner/doom/prog mix I've been on lately. So I'm taking a chance on a wholly new band, based off other bloggers' reviews; ain't the internet grand?
My fist impression of The Stars of Never Seen is something of a mix between the epic doom style of Candlemass - especially within the vocals - and the more varied traditional metal of Holy Martyr. Actually the Holy Martyr comparison is the most straight-forward that I can think of; both of their styles could be called epic metal (or folk metal without the folk, as I said on my article about Holy Martyr). They both use traditional themes and sounds of heavy metal (although a little more on the war and sorcery side, like power metal) but add a very flexible vocalist(s) that gives the songs a bit of that 'epic' feel. Once again, it's a hard sound to describe, but it works amazingly for Crescent Shield.
The vocalists does boom out the sound. The Stars of Never Seen is filled with semi-operatic vocals that remind me of the churches of old. The man, Michael Grant, can hold out a note amazingly well, and he is also gifted with a rather large range to choose from. My one gripe with his vocals is more along the lines of production values, throughout the album it's often difficult to pull out the singing from the backing instrumentation. I mean, you can always tell he's singing, and if you were to listen a few times you could make out what he is saying, but I think the album would have benefited much more if the vocals were pulled a little out of the reverb of the guitars. It all just seems a bit muddled to me, and it would be such an easy fix...
I get why Crescent Shield has so much good press out there, simply they rock! Their epic metal is something that you can really bang your head too without getting too lost in the mythos or layered vocals/guitars of power metal. This is power metal for non-power metal fans, bridging the gap from the 70s traditional metal and the bigger and bigger sounds that the 80s and 90s brought to the genre. The quality of The Stars of Never Seen waivers a bit here and there, but overall it is an enjoyable album to put on after a hard day of work (like today for me). While the group isn't amazing, it's worth your time to hear.