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(46:16, Black Widow Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Ride the Storm 12:20 2. Watch the Waves 11:30 3. World Spins out of Key 5:50 4. Winter Slumber 6:10 5. Given Time 11:26 LINEUP: Kevin Lawry – vocals; guitars, bass; keyboards Darin McCloskey – drums Brian Anthony – Mellotron
Prolusion. Another band from the roster of Black Widow Records, Britain’s CROWNED IN EARTH, presents their second album “A Vortex of Earthly Chimes”.
Analysis. There are five tracks here, and the first two of them, Ride the Storm and Watch the Waves, sound sort of like early Black Sabbath-meets-Camel, with hints of both Hawkwind’s “Levitation” and “Spectres” by Blue Oyster Cult in places, and lean toward longer, multi-sectional compositions, each exceeding 12 and 11 minutes in length, respectively. Each of them succeeds admirably due to an excellent blending of different textures, arranging and use of dynamics, plus an undeniable charm (as well as hypnotism – in a good sense of the term) in the overall presentation. My only minor complaint would be with symphonic doom-metal moves, since some of them are overextended, while the number of classic sympho-prog arrangements is comparatively little. The 6-minute World Spins out of Key is similar, but is more varied musically. The playing is full of vibrancy, conveying a wide range of emotions, varying in degree and intensity. The band is especially captivating within the piece’s last fifth, where they play doom-tinged Symphonic Progressive which (partly due to the presence of flute) is reminiscent of Budgie. Atmospherically less menacing than either of the described pieces, Winter Slumber is an up-tempo progressive doom/cathedral-metal number, only referring to Black Sabbath – think a statistically-average song from “Master of Reality”, only deploying keyboards (mainly organ), and with the vocals that are closer to Hawkwind’s Dave Brock in delivery. However, the instrumental sections are in minority only within the first half of the track. Another semi-epic piece, Given Time develops much the same way as the two compositions that have been described first, save the fact that most of its doom metal-related moves are performed without the use of heavy guitar riffs for some reason, so those are lacking in ‘meatiness’ as a result. Finally, the Mellotron, while declared as one of the primary keyboards, appears infrequently, only playing a significant role somewhere in the middle of the second track, Watch the Waves.
Conclusion. The band is at its best on the first three of the album’s tracks, particularly strong when playing symphonic Art-rock (in its pure form and doom-tinged one alike), thus showing a solid potential as adventurous prog-rockers. As it is, “A Vortex of Earthly Chimes” is a good album, but would’ve been an excellent one had the musicians paid more attention to the said style. Recommended with minor reservations.
VM=Vitaly Menshikov: March 4, 2012
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