"The Silver Key" (Listenable Records; 2024)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Okay, let's do the math here: Crystal Viper's "The Silver Key" is eleven tracks of fast-and-furious NWOBHM that instantly brings to mind legends like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden (and other, even fast bands). Add to that the fact that the lyrics are based on the works of legendary horror author H.P. Lovecraft (as confirmed by the multi-tentacled beastie on the album cover). Finally, add in a female vocalist with a razor-sharp voice and heavy metal style aplenty. So, that's Priest and Maiden + H.P. Lovecraft + a stunning lead vocalist. Add that all up and you get "The Silver Key." Quite an impressive sum.

Most, if not all, of the music on "The Silver Key" is musically epic in scope, with speedy riffs, incendiary leads, driving bass and massive drums. The single exception is "Wayfaring Dreamer," a piano-based ballad-type track that's slow and easy. It fits perfectly on this album but it's the one place where things slow down and let you catch a breath and it gives vocalist Marta Gabriel another chance to really shine.

My favorite tracks were "Old House in the Mist" with its spiraling riffs, the galloping Iron Maiden-ish "Heading Kadath" and "Book of the Dead" with its racing pace and Marta once again pulling off a great vocal performance.

Even though Crystal Viper was founded in Poland, fans of the classic NWOBHM sound will like what they find here on "The Silver Key."

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2024 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.