Crimson Star are back ladies and gentlemen. They went away, were quiet for a while, underwent some line-up changes but they have returned with a brand new record that absolutely bangs.
The obvious change is that the band are now a three-piece made up of James Shaw (Lead vocals, guitar) Ross Edgington (Drums, vocals) and Roger Ash (Bass). This stripped back, slim-line line-up also seems to have had an impact on the band’s sound. Their new EP Driven feels like they have gone back to basics and produced a record which rocks as hard and as loud as possible. The EP gets its official release next week but I’m going to give you the rundown right now.
The opening riff on first track Holy Land is absolutely mega. Mix that in with a stomping drumbeat and you’ve got the recipe for one hell of a tune. Everything just feels so raw and back to basics, this is stripped back in your face hard rock at its finest. I love the descending bridge into the chorus it’s very Black Sabbath-esque (Think Iron Man). The way that the whole song slows right down before launching into a colossal explosion of crashing drums and whirring guitars before one more blast of the hook at the finish is also a thing of hard rocking beauty. I like this tune so much I’ve dropped the link about the bottom of this review so that you can check it out for yourself.
I normally get a little bit worried when my favourite track on a record is first up but I’m pleased to report that the quality remains high for Mexicana. Lyrically from start to finish this track just spoke directly to me.
“I lost you once before a long long time ago. But then you reappeared out of nowhere. What I have you done to me? This wasn’t supposed to be. Forever in my mind, will you ever leave?”
I’ve picked out those couple of lines because that frames it, but if you’ve ever had an ex-girlfriend/boyfriend pop back up into your life then you’ll feel this track. Don’t know if that’s how the band meant it but that’s how I’ve interpreted it!
Again the sound is so brilliantly thick, I like the guitar work a lot and frankly I think it’s just impossible to listen to any of these songs quietly.
Waste Away is a song of contrasts. The verses are pretty restrained with quite a Foo Fighters feel while the chorus is a huge passionate affair. It doesn’t carry the same ‘wow factor’ as the opening couple of tracks but it’s still really good stuff. The penultimate song Hide Inside is the only one that for a while I wasn’t really sure about. The drums are the real driving force behind the track and it carries a darker kind of sound than the rest of the EP. It’s a solid effort but it took a few listens to really click with me, it’s a strange one. I’ve got nothing bad to say about it, it just doesn’t hook me in like the other 4 tracks.
All of that being said the trio ensure that the EP goes out with bang with its rough and rugged title track. The vocals are more aggressive and direct, almost more metal in style. I’m a huge fan of the fact that you can hear the thick, rumbling bassline coming through clear as day while the short screeching guitar solo is also a highlight.
I always think that if a band is going to disappear from the limelight for a while then they need to come back with something big and in the form of Driven, Crimson Star have certainly done that. It’s a brute of a hard rock record which is impossible to listen to quietly. I think that producer Romesh Dodangoda has done a great job of capturing what this band are all about and the result is a record worthy of a place in any rock fan’s music collection.
Driven is officially released on 1st February. You can also catch the band live on the 23rd of next month at the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton where they will be supporting Detroit hard rock band Wilson. Hit the band’s social media pages for more info.
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