Crisis The Hollowing
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Sometimes, you have to wonder if it's a gimmick when heavy metal bands have a female lead singer. Sometimes, it is. Other times, the female vocals fit well. And then there are times where the vocals are so well done that they are an integral part of the mixture and you could not imagine what the band sounds like without them. That is Crisis. Crisis doesn't use gimmicks and doesn't fall into any of the modern rock/metal clichés. They're straightforward metal through and through. And then Karen Crisis cracks open her windpipe and lays down a variety of sounds, ranging from masculine growls to a soft feminely touch. In between is a harsh rasp that oddly works with the bands musical style.

The music is apocalyptic without being slow and boring. In fact, the whole of the album is written well and played wonderfully. There's a fair balance between harsh brutality and the delicate touch of intricate guitar licks. Karen Crisis' vocals are so jagged and varied that they become an essential part of the mix. Each track has a sound and structure all it's own, so you won't feel like you're listening to the same song in a different key.

The opening track, Mechanical Man, sets a great tone, letting the listening know what they're in for without showing too much. Surviving The Siren is a wonderfully played track, switching between hauntingly soft portions to intensely coarse riffs. Other excellent tracks include Kingdom's End and Fire's Sorrow.

Anyone who loves traditional metal should own this album. It's not radio-friendly in the least and you won't be seeing them on MTV anytime soon. But, Crisis manages to create an album that has presence, style and variety. Some of Karen's screeching vocals may grind on a few nerves, but other than that, this album is worth every penny.

- - Kinderfeld

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