CD REVIEW: Crimson Chrysalis - Crimson Passion Cry
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Crimson Chrysalis
CD: Crimson Passion Cry
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Orchestral Rock, Epic Pop, Singer-Songwriter
Sounds Like: Evanescence, Lorena McKennett, Sara McLaughlin, Alannah Myles
Technical Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Ambiguous Liner Notes, Engineering Aspects (Recording, Mixing, Mastering)
Crimson Chrysalis is a South African female rock artist currently living in Pretoria. I have been in the music industry for quite sometime, but used to perform under the name “René”. I made a total directional change, and went from the Afrikaans acoustic-rock genre to neo-classical rock. I grew up in Bloemfontein, and completed the Unisa grade 1 piano exam already at the age of 5. I got my first guitar at the age of 8, and started giving guitar lessons at the age of 12. The guitar is still my leading, and favorite instrument. Crimson Passion Cry is the culmination of a two-and-a-half year journey by the Crimson Chrysalis creative team. René van den Berg, as the singer/composer, and Esther Slabbert, the lyricist, had a vision to create more than just another album. We wanted to establish a sophisticated, wall-of-sound product that has a purpose above and beyond mere entertainment.
The CD takes flight with epic “Angels and Demons” an orchestral groove piece that serves up methodical intro eventually evolving into impressive movement meshed against passionate string segments, captivating vocal groove and thought provoking lyrical content. Track 2 Deo Volente presents a dynamic follow up that serves up a passionate melody with heartfelt vocals from Rene’ that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Moth Around a Flame” delivers another mesmerizing song with impressive rhythm section, hypnotic vocal delivery and compelling theme. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like well-placed strings, dynamic rhythm section, sonic effects, and a few solos here and there combined with lush vocal harmonies layered everywhere. Now turning our attention over to Rene’ - as for her vocal abilities she is quite impressive and passioante. Her vocal style is cut from the cloth of Evanescence, Lorena McKennett, Bonnie Tyler, Garbage, Sara McLaughlin, and even Alannah Myles. It definitely works well within the confines of this catalogue which is reminiscent of alternative pop rock popular in the late 80’s and early 90's. I can also hear a modern day Orchestral Ambient Pop influence in there as well. Rene’s impressive vibrato, falsetto and overall vocal passion clearly indicate strong and confident vocal ability. I especially like how her voice just sort of flows and ebbs melodically with the music. This is an amazing quality that not many artists can execute flawlessly. This X-Factor quality clearly makes Rene’ a marquee talent. This CD from Crimson Chrysalis delivers 12 compelling tracks all providing an interesting snapshot of an amazing artist with thought provoking lyrical wisdom with messages that are positive, passionate and extremely captivating. From this CD has all hang out and just being herself musically. I would very much like to hear the full length CD soon. From passionate “Blood Diamond” to compelling ”Epilogue” to hard hitting “F*@# off and Die” *to my personal favorite “Letters from the Edge” to heartfelt “Crimson Passion Cry” to rocking Virgin Death” to epic “Fatal Lie” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with track 12 “Soliloque” the perfect wrap for a catalogue like this. There’s ever 2 bonus tracks featured at the end.
The biggest problem with the CD is not the band, not the music, not even the performances themselves - it’s the engineering aspect of it all. The overall production quality (recording, mixing, mastering) seems to be somewhat off center, fuzzy, muddy, erratic, and bit all over the place. From drums that lack serious bottom end, to obscure sounding low end frequency and lack of a crystal clear high end clarity, listening to this CD is comparable to watching Major Motion Picture on a black and White TV. It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix and master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall sound cannot be overstated. The liner notes are ambiguous as to who the musicians and engineering team (Recording, Mixing, Mastering) were. All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
From start to finish Crimson Passion Cry by Crimson Chrysalis is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is highly passionate, dark, uplifting, and slightly mysterious. The songwriting is an interesting snapshot of music from a clairvoyant artist that has a lot to offer. All songs are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song this catalogue is rock solid and extremely consistent. The writing and playing abilities of Rene’ and her band are rock solid. One would be wise to keep a watchful eye on her as her sound evolves and grows through time.