Crystal Palace -
Dawn Of Eternity

(CD 2016, 59:02, Gentle Art Of Music/Soulfood GAOM 045 )

The tracks:
  1- Dawn(2:35)
  2- Confess Your Crime(8:26)
  3- Eternal Step(6:31)
  4- Any Colour You Need(8:19)
  5- Daylight After The Rain(3:32)
  6- Fields Of Consciousness(6:35)
  7- Hearts On Sale(5:45)
  8- Eternity(2:00)
  9- All Of This(5:43)
10- Sky Without Stars(5:21)
11- The Day That Doesn't End(4:15)

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Berlin based Crystal Palace took the first step towards the progressive scene somewhere around 1992, with on the helm; Yenz: Jenz Uwe Strutz, now responsible for bass as well as the lead vocals. In the early days the band had several different lead vocalists, until they became aware of the quality of their bass player. Since the previous record, The System Of Events (2013, see review) the band had to part ways with their drummer and fresh blood entered by the name of Tom Ronney. Both guitarist Nils Conrad and keyboard player Frank Kölher close the new line-up for Crystal Palace. Help on the album came from guitarist Markus Reuter; one of the most talented musicians in Germany and vocalist Dominic Kröger. The mix was done by RPWL's Yogi Lang, who introduced the band to his label in 2013.

The previous album saw strong powerful melodic progressive rock, but to be fair, this new release absolutely tops the previous release. Like the band already stated themselves; “The new addition would become the deciding catalyst that would not only spur on the band's musical evolution but simultaneously act as a regulative in the difficult process. “ On Dawn Of Eternity the band takes a step towards bands like Dream Theater, IQ and Galahad. Very different bands, you might wonder?, but when you listen to the album, you might hear references of all of these bands and even some hints from Porcupine Tree and certainly, Yogi Lang has also left his mark on Dawn Of Eternity.

Dawn Of Eternity starts with a short instrumental soundscape; Dawn, that leads to the eight and a half minute lasting Confess Your Crime. Here the new blood, Tom Ronney shows he's brought a new positive impulse to the band as the song is a heavy progressive rock song with lots of room for keyboards and guitars to excel, Yenz's vocals are as strong as always, melodic with a slightly present German accent and very pleasant to listen to. The following Eternal Step is a strong neo progressive composition; catchy vocal parts, both gentle as well as furious guitar solos and a nice bed of keyboards underneath. More keyboard and electronical based is the beginning of Any Colour You Need, a song that has some similarities with the last couple of Sylvan albums, where the guitar sound seemed to be less important. The mid-section and end of this Crystal Palace composition however is nicely balanced and shows the importance of the nicely divided attention for both keys as well as guitars. The vocals are majestic again. The Crimson ProjeKCt and Stick Men participant Markus Reuter adds his distinguished sound to the ballad Daylight After The Rain, a song that must have been influenced by the band's patron, Yogi Lang, here even Yenz's vocals do sound like RPWL's front man. Fields Of Consciousness brings back the power as strong riffs give this composition a more alternative feel, something that perfectly fits and here and Yenz has a nice tremble in his voice which adds a sort of emotional touch. For me this song is an absolute highlight of the album. With Hearts On Sale the band returns to the more neo progressive rock sound, now combined with some minor electronics, giving this one some similarities with the British Galahad. Like Dawn, Eternity is a short instrumental soundscape that is used as an intro for the following song. All Of This is the song, heavy progressive, highlighting the powerful drum sound that is noticeably present on the whole album. Something I would consider as a compliment. All Of This combines nice piano with a fierce guitar sound and again some fine soloing from both instruments. A bit softer is Sky Without Stars; neo progressive rock with the focus on fine vocals and multi-layered keyboards and respectfully dosed guitars. The final track on the album; The Day That Doesn't End also is a very strong progressive rock song with haunting guitar solos and a very nice bass part in the middle. The keyboards are again multi-layered and do have a more supporting role during this song. Still it's a song that invites you to hit repeat.

With this album; Dawn Of Eternity, it seems to me the band has matured and have added more power to their music than before. A number of songs are still fantastic neo progressive rock highlights. The addition of some metallic and alternative elements to the music is something I appreciate very much as it brings more diversity to the album. Where I can agree with my colleague who reviewed the precious CD; The System Of Events and granted the album with four stars, this one is one step further up the ladder.

****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Robert James Pashman)

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