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If only the songwriting wasn't so bad - 55%

TrooperOfSteel, November 18th, 2012

Originally starting out as a side project, L.A. heavy metal band Crescent Shield became a fully fledged band when co-founder/vocalist Michael Grant and his main band Onward disbanded. The case was the same for other co-founder, guitarist Daniel DeLucie and his main band Destiny’s End. Forming in 2000, Crescent Shield work out of sunny Los Angeles, but are with Italian record label, Cruz Del Sur Music. This is understandable due to the group’s music sounding very much like European heavy metal. With just the one full-length album under their belt, ‘The Last of My Kind’ released in 2006, the band is still quite young and yet to make their mark on the metal world.

Now with their latest effort, album #2 entitled ‘The Star of Never Seen’, Crescent Shield are hoping to become one of the headlining acts for Cruz Del Sur Music, and become a little more well known in Europe and in their hometown in the process.

Playing traditional heavy metal with elements of progressive metal, ‘The Stars of Never Seen’ contains 9 tracks, all pieced together nicely and wrapped up in a surprisingly solid production. All 9 songs are slowish to mid-paced in tempo and I would compare the pace of the tracks to be similar (but not exact) with the pace of the majority of tracks from the recent Iced Earth trilogy of “Something Wicked”.

Vocalist Michael Grant is a decent singer, but really needs a bit of work on his pitch and also the lack of emotion in his voice. Sounding similar in style to Brainstorm’s vocalist Andy B. Franck, but not nearly as polished, Grant hardly changes his style throughout the CD; which at times during some tracks can sound monotonous and tiresome. As far as the songwriting goes, here is where the bulk of the issues arise, despite all the tracks been written somewhat creatively. The trap Crescent Shield have fallen into, is to write that same creative song over and over again with hardly any differences at all between each track. Each member of the band are talented musicians which shows up on the album, but the problem I feel is that the majority of the tracks on ‘The Stars of Never Seen’ feel generic but also lack aggression, emotion and conviction. This would also explain the reason why there are hardly any guitar solos in the songs.

I found ‘The Stars of Never Seen’ to be disappointing, based on the reasons in the above paragraph. I thought that the album basically went “by the numbers” in terms of construction and it could have really been a lot better than how it turned out. Finding a standout track on the CD was fairly difficult, but there was a couple of tracks which showed a heap of promise and possibly something the band could use and work with for the next album.

The two tracks “Temple of the Empty” and the final track “Lifespan” are both quite good, but only because they swayed away from the typical formula which tainted the rest of the tracks. “Temple of the Empty” has a great guitar riff and plenty of gusto, while “Lifespan” gets the sticker with the smiley face because of Michael Grant’s impressive change in vocal delivery. Finally we hear some aggression in a track, unfortunately it just so happens to be on the final track.

In all, the album is a whole is disappointing, but it does show plenty of promise. Despite the songwriting being a great weakness and much improvement is needed, each member still tries very hard. Maybe giving the songwriting duties to someone else, or giving it a massive makeover for the next album, Crescent Shield could return to form with the third release.

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