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Trying Different Things. - 80%

Metal_Jaw, June 21st, 2012

Halford's debut album, "Resurrection", was a solid, no frills excursion in straightforward heavy metal. Two years later, the previous lineup reunited for the solid followup album "Crucible". While elements of the the previous effort's traditional metal shined through, "Crucible" is a fairly different beast. The production, as a number of the songs, are heavier or moodier, and the sound is more modern with some groovish elements. It's not as awful as a lot of people want to make it out to be, but there are problems.

Before we get started, the version I have is the remixed/remastered version. The original CD is pretty hard to get a hold of, and from what I understand the production was pretty awful, so I guess I'm not missing much. Anyway, the band, particularly the guitarists, have mostly amped up their quality this time around. Metal Mike and Lachman have nicely improved the quality or their solos this time, sounding less choppy and overly simple. Their riffing has gotten neater and tighter as well. Ray Riendeau's bass is still not terribly audible, but he again has become a tighter player when heard. The drumming of the always great Bobby Jarzombek is better than ever; probably most notable is his ape shit double bass on opener "Betrayal". Rob Halford's vocals vary. He tries out some of his usual screams, but mixes it with some crooning, lots of raging mid-level bellowing and even a few growls thrown in for good measure.

As I said, the more modern and occasional groove elements come through on this album. Unfortunately, this does kill a good number of songs. "Handing Out Bullets" is only half a step away from some pissy hardcore boy band, as is the too-groovish bonus track "Fugitive" with its slightly gothic-tinged vocals. The balladic "She" and unusually-composed "Sun" are just boring. "Trail of Tears" follows a similar path of boredom and unfortunately closes out the album on a stale note.

However, there is still hope. It's Rob Halford after all! Like "Resurrection", "Crucible" starts out with a killer one-two punch. "Betrayal" is an in-your-face, all-out speed metal attack armed with winding guitars, a flurry of drumming and vicious Halford shrieking. This is followed by the Priest-esque "One Will", a straightforward bit of metal with memorably hooky chorus and more solid riffing. "Hearts of Darkness", while quite groovish and tinged with more goth-type vocals, is decidedly pretty damn heavy and the riffing in the first half of the song is quality. "Golgotha" has a great solo and a killer second half, with nifty apocalyptic lyrics. "Crystal" sounds a bit too modern, but it's awful thanks primarily to the moody atmosphere and ugly lyrics. Then we have the ferocious title track. This one kicks serious ass; it's evil, Halford utilizes all sorts of vocal work, the chorus is catchy and heavy, and the solo rocks. Great shit right here!

Overall, there are problems. It's just not near as perfect as "Resurrection". While I appreciate Halford wanting to movie in a different direction, it didn't totally work here. Some of the songs are completely forgettable or downright suck. At the very least the performance of the bandmates have improved, and a number of the songs still royally kick ass. Worthwhile, but I do suggest just downloading the better songs if you want. Get the full CD is you're a completest or serious metalhead.

Waste of time and talent - 58%

holyrebels, July 7th, 2010

I can't always decide what to listen to from my large music collection, so I tend to rate albums a little higher if it's something that I find myself coming back to. I have listened to this album for some time, always coming back periodically to see what I missed and to discover why it gets decent reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. It's a different story now that I've listened to it for the last few hours. "Crucible" is flat-out weak and today will likely be the last day I listen to it.

"Resurrection" was a solid metal outing for Rob Halford. A bit of speculating leads me to conclude that Halford took a cue from Bruce Dickinson and reinvigorated his personal interest in metal via metal muse Roy Z. Roy Z. wrote, produced, and played guitar for much of Dickinson's excellent "Accident of Birth" and the magnificent "The Chemical Wedding". Z works some magic for Halford too, in writing and producing (but allegedly not playing guitar) "Resurrection" and now "Crucible", with mixed results.

To be kind, I will give Halford the benefit of the doubt and assume that they intended to make an album that did not sound as anthemic and Priesteqsue as the first Halford album. The band succeeds in this, but like I said I was being kind. I asked myself if it was possible that Rob Halford wanted to make a record that didn't showcase powerful songwriting and direct, exciting songs, and the answer is no. These songs just have no fire, and the blame rests on half-assed songwriting and playing a bunch of tunes that seem like leftovers.

It is clear that the songwriting for the Halford debut was much more focused than this album that came out two years later. It's one thing to have a collection of songs in your back-pocket for several years and put out your comeback album, but quite another to write an album in a year and a half to match that output.

The closest this album comes to the powerful anthem feel we expect from the mighty Metal God are the title track, "Wrath of God" and "One Will". Ah, kindness again. I need to stop doing that. These songs, whether due to production weakness or poor songwriting, are reasonably enjoyable but fall flat.

The guitars are downtuned throughout the album and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of bite to be found. Where are the shrieking solos? Oh, there goes one... wait, that was boring and sucked. Move along. Plenty of chugga-chugga riffs going on, but I've heard this a million times and so have you.

The drums are decent, kinda buried in the mix but they get the job done. The overall rhythms seem lazy to me, and like another reviewer pointed out this band seems to rely on how awesome their frontman is to carry the lackluster music. They seem to have forgotten that not every Judas Priest tune is classic and that even Halford/Tipton/Downing couldn't always make it happen, much less 1/3 of that combo. Rob Halford sounds good on this album, but he sounded a lot better on "Resurrection" and even on the JP album "Angel of Retribution" released a couple years after "Crucible".

Too many slides into nu-metal occur on this album too, too many weird bouncy musical bits and goofy vocal effects such as "Hearts of Darkness" and especially "Heretic" (complete with an awful Korn impersonation in the middle) drag this album even further down. Weak backing rhythms as on "Golgotha" (again, these slackers assuming Rob can carry the whole band) combined with dumb lyrics... Halford uses "satanical" in the chorus on this one, and I had to look that up to see if it's a real word. Turns out it is, but man is it awkward.

So many problems and by-the-numbers performances make this an album to avoid unless you're in love with everything Rob Halford does. This is far from the worst music I've ever heard, but stick with "Resurrection" instead.

Halford's Voice for the Last Time - 75%

The_CrY, March 4th, 2010

Crucible is, besides being the second album of the band Halford, unique in many many ways. Not only is it the heaviest album Rob Halford ever recorded, but it’s also the last album with Halford’s trademark high screams at decent quality. Face it, on the Priest albums following this one he rarely gives us a high scream that even sounds good. He is getting old and this is his last optimal performance. Apart from that, this album received remarkably less applause than its predecessor Resurrection, and when looking at both albums, that surprises me quite a lot.

This release tends to follow the same path Resurrection did, but then with a whole new dimension. Where I thought that the previous album had way too many filler material and was too cheesy for words at times, Crucible shows us a collection of strong songs with a flashback to the 80s at some (“Rock the World Forever”) but with an overall powerful ambience. In short this album contains more of the good side of Halford: heaviness, great riffs, more high-pitched screams and a great piece of songwriting. And above all this album has a great ballad, which is either “She” or “In the Morning”, depending whether you bought the European or Japanese edition respectively. There is a “Resurrection”-esque song in the shape of the enormously catchy and aggressive “Betrayal”, a few mid-paced songs with ongoing flow like “Hearts of Darkness” and “Heretic”, a few slower songs like “Golgotha” and “Crystal” but also some downright speedy and killer anthems like “Handing out Bullets” and “Wrath of God”. After the intro “Park Manor”, which sets a good ambience for the rest of the album, we are immediately faced by the title track. “Crucible” starts off with a bass intro, which quickly evolves into a mid-paced song with a killing riff, with traditional Halford vocals on the main. The highlight of this song might well be the epic theme just after the chorus, with keyboards highlighting the evil melody. Halfway the song speeds up into a heavier part, which reminds a little of “Silent Screams”, the epic that featured on Crucible’s predecessor. Apart from “Crucible”, “Golgotha”, which is a slow melodic song, also contains this speeding up in the middle.

There often are pretty monotonous verses with the melody bursting out in the chorus, like on “One Will”. The riff of this song is not the most original one, but what save the song is the chorus and the instrumental pre-chorus. Absolute highlight of the album is “Betrayal”. As mentioned before, this song is immensely catchy and aggressive. It’s fast, furious and very raw in sound, with the main riff almost randomly dropping a few low e-string picks, with the bass drums joining each pick, hence creating the best riff off this album. Not to mention the very high pitched vocals by Rob Halford. This is the last song ever recorded by the man that features this kind of vocals, which actually is very sad. The guitar solo is also very notable here, with very catchy backing chords. “Handing out Bullets” features one of the most heavy drums of all time, and it’s standing out for the two Halfords singing here, one in a high-pitched voice, one in a normal voice. That creates a great effect. I always thought this song was part of a duo together with “Wrath of God”, which is also extremely heavy in drums, although the latter does not feature the two Halfords.

Another song that needs mentioning is “Weaving Sorrow”, and with that song we come to the bad side of this album. I’d prefer to compare this song to “Locked and Loaded” from the Resurrection album, it’s very similar in style. The riff sounds less original and more brutal, and it has a more 80s sound overall. Halford sings like he is Mr. Tough Guy, which he actually is, but not if he sings like it. It just doesn’t work, and the uninspired chorus isn’t really helping either. To get back to the more positive side of the album there are pretty odd surprises near the end of the album. “Sun” has an odd riff and very odd singing melodies in the verses, but somehow it works. Especially the great guitar leads right after the verses really add things. Album closer “Trail of Tears” is quite epic, and the chorus is so beautiful, leaving a trail of tears on my face when realizing that his voice is gone after this album. The bonus-tracks you might gain on this album are great, no matter what version you have. The European and Japanese versions both have one great ballad, “She” and “In the Morning” respectively, and one average rocker, “Fugitive” and “Rock the World Forever”. Although my preference goes to the ballad “She”, mostly because Rob’s voice there reminds me of good ol’ times, the other is also really worth listening to.

One last subject I’d like to focus on is Halford’s vocals. Since this is one of his solo albums, he should be the main attraction. On this album his voice is already in his old days, like on Resurrection, but he can still do everything with his voice. He can still go sky high like on 1990’s Painkiller album and, although not as much as before, he can reach quite the notes on his normal voice. He’s raw and clean, aggressive and sensitive. I’d say it’s a very good vocal performance. This is the last album of which I can truly say that.

Strongest tracks: “Betrayal”, “She” and “Sun”.
Weakest tracks: “Weaving Sorrow” and “Crystal”.

http://thecryreviews.blogspot.com/

Quantity Over Quality Halford Style - 33%

DawnoftheShred, January 15th, 2008

Another day, another Rob Halford solo project, another chunk of time I’ve wasted listening to and reviewing it. This time it’s Crucible, the followup to the mediocre but nonetheless endearing Resurrection, which delivers a whopping fifteen new tracks (if you have the bonuses) for Halford/Priest fans to go gaga over. Unfortunately, Rob and his talented solo ensemble forgot that what the fans want is quality over quantity and not the other way around, leaving only a handful of listenable tunes and a shitload of filler.

Basically these are the same kind of songs as Resurrection, just far less memorable. So much so that if I was sentenced to never, ever be allowed to listen to any of these songs again, it’d be no inconvenience to me. To sum it up quickly: the things that rule include the drumming, the production (however modern it may be), the guy playing guitar solos (even though the downtuned guitars are incredibly mallcorish), Halford’s vocals (most of the time), and the first four or five songs after the intro track, which I can usually listen to without falling asleep. After that, there’s a score of songs with compellingly simple titles (“She,” “Crystal,” “Sun”) that are in one ear and out the other. Sometimes its generic groove, sometimes its generic power metal, and sometimes it sounds like Drowning Pool. If any of these appeal to you, do yourself a favor and run out and pick this up. Oh the lyrics are lame too, making this a failure on yet another front.

And it sucks too, because had Halford and these boys just cut the fat and developed their songs better, Crucible might have been a contemporary classic and the first good thing Halford’s done outside of Judas Priest. Alas, it is far from the case and just another reason to be thankful he’s back in that band instead of flitting around in garbage like Fight or Two.

Rob Tries To "Modernize"..... - 67%

Dead_As_A_Door_Nail, March 7th, 2003

This is the long-awaited follow-up to Rob Halford's highly acclaimed (and deservingly so) return to his classic metal roots, "Resurrection", after a brief detour with his industrial/goth rock project, called Two, which was not only disastorious, but badly timed, as it came out just months after Rob came out of the closet. "Crucible", unlike "Resurrection's" raw, balls-out traditional metal sound, has a muddier, sludgier, thrashier, more Pantera-esque sound. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. This means that it's less catchy and memorable, not as much life or character in the riffage department, and not as much variety, too many "chugga-chugga" riffs. The production is muddy and I often had to turn the bass way down, which is not a very good sign, and where the hell is the treble!? The often down-tuned guitars only add to the muddiness of the production, as well. The drums are good, there are more double bass parts in this album than in "Resurrection", which i like. If there wasn't so much boom and muffles on the bass, I'd say it was OK! And of course, Rob is in fine vocal form as always. He uses every one of his styles in this album, from the clean operatic wail, to his very clean singing voice and his gruff, snarling, "I'm a tough rock singer" voice, to his violent, banshee-like shrieking style of singing.

Ok, now on to the songs! The album starts off with the haunting, one-minute instrumental, "Park Manor"which really just serves as the intro to the second song, the title track, "Crucible".This is a mid-paced, almost hypnotizing rocker, with some cool riffing and a catchy, melodic chorus, which i think could've been a little better, with a little more umph to it, but still good nonetheless. "One Will" is one of my favorites on the album, with some powerful riffs and drums and a very cool chorus, which always gets stuck in my head when i hear it! This song has a thrashy part in the guitar solo, which is cool. That great song is followed by another awesome track, and another one of my favorites, "Betrayal".This song is a fast-paced, balls-out , bang-your-head-till-you-get-whiplash type of rocker and I love it!!! Rob uses his shreiking voice to great effect in this song, as well. The guitars are down and dirty, and the drums are relentless and is that a dual harmony guitar part i hear towards the end of the solo? Hell yes! That fine piece of metal is followed by a not as good song in "Handing Out Bullets".Rob again uses his shrieking voice on this one, this time though, it's over-dubbed on his lower, more gruff singing voice, which sounds pretty cool. The solo sees the two guitarists trading off back and forth and again ending it with a dual harmony. I dunno, it's good, but i just didn't like it as much as "One Will" or "Betrayal". Next up is "Hearts Of Darkness",which starts off with muddy, down-tuned guitars, which stays throughout. There is a cool vocal melody throughout the song by Rob, which saves the song for me. The next song,"Crystal",isn't any better, it too has those damned down-tuned guitars throughout the entire song! I found this song to be a bit boring and doesn't offer much. "Heretic" is promising for most of the song and is an OK song, but then......i heard it. There is a damn Korn-like sound before the solo, which really de-railed most of the song's momentum, thank god the rest of the song's OK, or else it would have completely killed it. And right when things were starting to look bad,"Golgotha" comes to save the day! This is behind "One Will", "Betrayal" and "She"(which is later in the album) as my favorites of the album. This is a tough, slow and very heavy song that rescued the rest of the album for me. And I can't help but be reminded of Judas Priest's "Jawbreaker" when Rob sings "Salvation!" in the song

Next up is another good song in "Wrath Of God". This is another nasty rocker that sorta teeters the line between mid-paced and fast-paced. Think of it like a slower "Betrayal" with tamer vocals. The next song, "Weaving Sorrow" is another solid rocker that has some good vocals in it, and a great solo! The guitars are chugging and down-tuned which can be boring, but the rest of the song is good enough to keep it from completely falling flat. "Sun" has an awesome intro that i keep going back to on my stereo. Too bad the rest of the song isn't as good, but it's alright, the intro shows iteslf again in the middle! Rob has some cool middle eastern vocal melody in the song which gives it a hynotizing feel to it and there are some nice guitar parts in here too. "Trail Of Tears"(not to be confused with the Testament song with the same name), is a ho-hum mid-tempo song that, to me, is a wee bit boring and i often skip it. Maybe I'll give it another chance someday, we'll see. It does have a very poweful guitar in some parts, though. It's OK. After about a minute of silence, quite possibly the best sonf on the album comes in......."She"......now here's a good ballad that come out of nowhere! As i mentioned earlier, this is one of my favorite songs off the album. The band shows heart in their performance, and Rob really shows emotion in the way he sings this song...you can really tell this song means alot to him and that is probably one of the reasons why i like this song so much, because it's Rob showing his vulnerable human side and good god, do i admire that. And finally, the closer, "Fugitive" This song starts off strong with a NON-downtuned guitar! This adds much needed power in the song, the chorus is catchy as well, and the entire song just works. It's not great, but it is a nice way to end the album.

Overall, this album is just alright, plagued with bad production, lifeless riffs, too much bass with very lttle treble and DOWN TUNED GUITARS!!! This album could've been much better, but Rob's attempt to modernize hurt the potential in the long run. Don't get me wrong this album has it's share of great songs. When it's good, it's great. If you have yet to buy an album by this band(they only have 2 plus 1 live album), start with Resurrection" and if you like that, then go buy some Rob Halford-era Judas Priest, perhaps starting with "Painkiller", since it's more similar to "Resurrection", then get this. This is actually better suited for Pantera fans and Rob Halford freaks.

Should have been better - 70%

Thrash_Till_Death, October 21st, 2002

Does Halford need any introduction at all...? Allright, I didn't think he did. Well now we're presented with the follow up to his well received return to metal cd Resurrection.

Sadly, this album doesn't quite live up to what it should. First off, the production is not what it should be and this is a big flaw. There really is no way around this, and the cd suffers because of it. Secondly, the songs are more varied this time, but end up being forgettable. This cd does have some great heavy moments, like the songs Betrayal (music wise) or the title track. The problem is it also has a lot of songs you forget. The music on this cd has been beefed up a bit and at some points, you wouldn't even think its halford, like on Handing out Bullets. Rob's voice is what brings the songs down, at least for me. On Betrayal, he uses his super high voice for the whole song. While this would have been ok for a bit, it just annoys me after a bit. Other songs, it almost seems like he is just "there", with no real feeling in it.

In the end, this cd is just ok. The music is good and in some songs, is ass kicking. But Rob's vocals bring it down when listening to the cd as a whole. Also the production needs work. Best songs: Handing out Bullets, Crucible.

Initially I couldn't help but feel... - 72%

Sinner, October 15th, 2002

Initially I couldn't help but feel a little bit disappointed after hearing Crucible, the eagerly awaited follow up to Rob Halford's 2000 comeback album Resurrection.

After repeated listening however, it has to be said that while still not in a league with Rob's best work, the album does hold itself compared to many other releases these days and turns out to be quite solid without really being groundbreaking.

The main problem for me lies with the rather drab and dry production which seemingly takes away some of the power and energy otherwise contained within the songs on offer here and is especially notable when put next to Resurrection, something which is rather strange since both albums where produced by the same people (Roy Z and Halford himself). It also seems that, while both of the guitar players are more than adequate, they seem to be somewhat lacking in finesse and class as well as not really having a recognisable style of their own - I can't say that there's really one solo or riff on the album which stands out, even though some of the songs in itself are quite strong (although lacking the catchiness of certain songs like for example "Resurrection", "Made In Hell" and "Silent Screams" from the debut).

However, don?t let yourself be fooled into thinking that Crucible is a weak effort, because it certainly is not. Apart from classic straight forward metal tracks like for example "Betrayal", "One Will" (probably the most Priest compatible songs), "Crucible" and "Wrath Of God" (all four rank as my personal favourites) there are also a couple of more experimental tunes on offer, taking a more dark and doomy direction than what we?re used to from Halford. Most interesting of these are, at least in my opinion "Sun" which is build around a rather unusual vocal melody, "Hearts Of Darkness" and "Crystal". One thing which rather annoyed me however is the fact that there are different bonus-tracks on different releases (Europeans and Americans get She and Fugitive, while Asians get In The Morning and Rock The World Forever), things like this should be avoided in the future.

Of course the main selling point is Halford's voice which, while perhaps not as forcefull or strong as in the past still manages to be well above average (with a couple of exceptions here and there) and definitely above a lot of other fellow musicians. Admittedly thumbs up must also be given to Bobby Jarzombek, who (like usual) shows that he is both a very powerfull as well as a very varied drummer, and is perhaps (next to Rob himself of course) the star of the band.

In short, apart from the doubtfull production (something which should be worked on a little in the future) there's really nothing which could possibly keep you from buying Crucible, just be warned that it might take a while before you fully apreciate what's on offer here. Solid, but not outstanding.