CRIMSON SUN has been surprisingly quiet on the scene recently, despite a lot of action a few short years ago. As one of our to-watch-out-for bands of 2016 having seen them perform at Tuska Open Air and opening for a few classic bands like CAIN’S OFFERING and EPICA, we haven’t seen much of them recently. However, 2019 marked the release of a few new singles, leading up to the self-release of their sophomore album, “Fates,” in early on January 24th, 2020.
The album opens up with the quick and catchy “The Beast Within,” which was also the second single from the album, which came out in 2019. I was quite surprised at how poppy the track gets in the chorus. The synths that directly follow the chorus are nicely done and are perhaps my favorite part of the song. It’s certainly something I’d lift weights to, if you know what I mean!
“Virtual Reality” has some really cool effects (presumably done by the synth) and isn’t quite so drastically poppy. It’s definitely a catchy track and one that I can easily imagine dancing along with live. Victory then awaits the listener with the fun and uplifting first single, “We are One.”
Perhaps one problem with the album is that the vocals feel a bit too loud in the mix, to the point that they stand out a bit harshly against the other instruments. As well, the style that Sini Seppälä is singing in seems poppier than before and maybe doesn’t suit her voice quite as well as the songs from the first album, though I couldn’t say if that’s a result of the mix. Fortunately, the music itself still maintains its symphonic/melodic origins, as heard in the beginning of “The Prison.” This track also suffers a bit from the jarring vocal volume and I wish it had pushed certain elements a bit further, like adding just a bit more bombast into the synths. However, it was still a personal favorite on the album, so if it suffers, it’s not a lot.
The album slows down for “Overcome,” not quite all the way down to ballad territory, but the song definitely has a more passionate and emotional feel to it. The keyboard-accompanied vocal part ends the song on a gentle fade out. The album then transitions gently into “Fate of Nora,” which has an ambient and intriguing intro before picking up a bit of energy. Lyrically, this song is intriguing and makes me wonder more about this titular Nora.
The first thing I thought when hearing “Trailblazer” was, “SABATON!? Wait, no, I’m still listening to CRIMSON SUN.” This thought only lasted for 1-2 seconds, but it was a definite surprise, especially considering the synth sounds a little closer to NIGHTWISH for the rest of the song. If you want to assume that a song that briefly brings SABATON to mind has pretty good energy, you’d be right. “Distant Stars” starts with a classic NIGHTWISH sound but then takes a bit of a disco turn where the music feels a bit lackluster. It picks back up in the chorus though and has a nice instrumental part that follows. It also explores the lower range of Seppälä‘s vocals, which is cool, but I could’ve had a little more oomph from her in the last note, as well as a bit more of an explosive power from the band itself.
“Essence of Creation” starts with a strong synth melody and another experiment with Seppälä‘s voice, which I was perhaps not on board with at first, at least until it reaches 00:39 and then she pumps some more power into the sound and picks it up and stays strong until the end. I wouldn’t be opposed to her developing that particular style more though as it has a lot of potential; the second verse utilizes it far better. The album then ends with “Last Day on Earth,” which begins with good dramatics that could maybe use a little extra something in the production, feeling almost a bit muted in some of the more important places. However, it’s got the flare of a final track, the drums are powerful, the vocals carry the lyrics beautifully, the backing symphonics sound great, and, well, it packs a punch and leaves the album on a high note. It does seem to end a bit abruptly, but for people who hate a long fade-out, this shouldn’t be an issue.
This album comes so, so, so close to being magnificent that it’s almost infuriating, especially considering the vast majority of the problems are in the production. If just a few small things were tweaked, such as the vocal volume and general blending of instruments in the mix, as well as a bit of a dynamic push here or there, and this album could easily be on my list of favorites this year. The overall construction, the vocal and instrumental performances, and the general diversity of sound are all working in the band’s favor. Hopefully that means that these songs will have great live potential at least.
While I can’t say I enjoyed this more than their debut, “Towards the Light” (2015), as it goes in a less heavy/more poppy direction, I nevertheless feel like there are a lot of people out there who are going to be able to connect with the lyrics and themes, thanks to the dedication and care these guys put into their music. Despite not having any sort of linking concept or theme, “Fates” feels fairly conceptually thematic, as many lyrics talk about standing up for yourself, following your dreams, and being strong, or conversely, warn against internet addictions and destroying the environment (standing up for good causes, in a way). CRIMSON SUN clearly have a lot to say and we hope to hear as much of it as we can!
Written by Bear Wiseman
- The Beast Within
- Virtual Reality
- We are One
- The Prison
- Fate of Nora
- Distant Stars
- Essence of Creation
- Last Day on Earth
Sini Seppälä – vocals
Joni Junnila – guitars
Miikka Hujanen – keyboards
Jukka Jauhiainen – bass
Antti Rantavuo – drums
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