HistoryAppearing in the '80s with fantastic make-up and progressive music reminiscent of Queensryche, Florida's Crimson Glory made an impact upon the scene with its first two albums.
With personal difficulties and less spectacular results from Strange And Beautiful the band split in 1992. The album was criticized for a new style.
The band's name is taken from the bible, although the band later denied a Christian connection. After much pre-press an album appeared in 1999 although the band seems to have imploded again. Former guitarist Ben Jackson managed to get former singer Midnight to record vocals for 2004 solo release entitled All Over You. Midnight recorded some vocals at Tampa's Morrisound Studios. Singer "Midnight" McDonald again became a former member when he was arrested on January 20th, 2007 in Sarasota, Florida and charged with DUI or drunk driving. Wade Black again stepped in to sing for the band and tour.
In an odd twist, two Crimson Glory vocalists, Midnight and Wade Black, would join each other on their respective bands. Wade Black would sing on Midnight's M2 album in 2007. They would also play joint acoustic shows and perform together with their bands, Midnight Band and Disasterpeace.
Midnight (John Patrick Jr. McDonald) died on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 from kidney and liver failure. He was 47 years old. The band was consequently asked by ProgPower USA to replace its original headliner on Friday, September 11th in Atlanta, Georgia. Featuring Wade Black on vocals, and several guest singers, the band was also missing bassist Jeff Lords who has to sit out the show for personal reasons. Crimson Glory picked up singer Todd La Torre in the middle of 2010 as the new frontman for the act replacing dead former singer Midnight. The band would play at the Keep It True XIV festival, which would take place April 29-30, 2011 at Tauberfrankenhalle in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany. The band added concert dates for the third segment of its ongoing 25th-anniversary European tour. The shows, named Phoenix Rising, hit Greece in October of 2011.
Singer Todd La Torre completely quit the band in 2013 to focus on the rejigged Queensrÿche. La Torre had joined Queensrÿche in June of 2012 as the replacement for Geoff Tate. The latter was writing an album he claimed was solidly heavy. In 2014, Crimson Glory guitarist Jon Drenning was arrested on April 8th in Sarasota, Florida on charges of conspiracy to purchase cocaine.
CRIMSON GLORY – TRANSCENDENCE – ROADRUNNER
Transcendence or T-r-a-n-s-c-e-n-d-e-n-c-e- (if the album's cover is given precedence), released in the autumn of 1988, is progressive power metal group Crimson Glory’s second album and one of those rare instances where a sophomore record bests its predecessor, the band’s self-titled debut. The debut album of 1986 is no slouch and is a masterpiece in its own right, but Transcendence, in Metallian’s very important and indisputable opinion, is the better of the two and transcends its predecessor.
The quintet simply had so many accomplished musicians, accomplished songs with accomplished structures and accomplished ideas to become a middling seller and, while the band and album have become something of a cult phenomenon in the interim, for the band to not have a veritable breakthrough with this record is a noose around the neck and condemnation of the musicians, the music industry, drugs and audiences. There is blame to go around for all, but more on that later perhaps.
For this reviewer and fan, Transcendence has one fault only and that is the drum sound. It is a sterile and hollow sound reminiscent of the type of crap one expects from pop acts like Metallica or Def Leppard. This is because the band substituted its drum kit for a synclavier in the studio. It was a mistake to insert something so inorganic into something so organic. Listening to the heavier and booming drums on the song Lost Reflection from the group’s debut and comparing it to the synclavier highlights the contrast. Past that, half-masked singer Midnight was a phenomenon of pitch and range whose emotional intensity was palpable. He, perhaps alongside Riot’s Tony Moore who sang on Thundersteel and Solitude Aeternus’ Robert Lowe, remains one of the under-rated vocalists of the genre. The guitarists and bassist deliver pitch perfectly and are excellent at everything with which they tangle.
To go over select songs from the album we can begin with the opening track Lady Of Winter. This song features smoking guitar pyro techniques that rival the incredible vocals of Midnight, which are generally considered Crimson Glory's trump card. The mystic title represents an evocative and imaginative power structure of a song. Mind you, this five-some comes from Florida. What do they know about the winter, right? Red Sharks raises the flag of anti-communism, which is a pity unto itself, but also represents the ideology wrongly. The boys mistake communism with fascism. Either way, on this thoroughly aggressive heavy metal song the snare sound could be heavier. The strident backing vocals fit and the dual guitar attack and giddy solo make this a favourite of many. The cutting militaristic rhythm guitars are not far behind. The vocals create and hold such melodies. One will eternally wonder if the lead-in to the chorus and the chorus itself were recorded in one take or are the results of some studio cutting and splicing the way Midnight changes his tone at the drop of a hat. Red Sharks is a power metal song with vocals in Midnight’s lower registers. Evidently, he sought to exude a more aggressive sound. Painted Skies is slow and deliberate. The music is majestic, but almost an accompaniment to the soaring and mournful vocals whose range and control is astounding. A ballad, this is the first slow song and section on the record, but not the last. It begins with a strum that is really a showcase for Midnight's delicate vocals. Masque Of The Red Death is the song with the clever “the hour of midnight grows near” sentence. It is another good song and features some of Midnight's highest vocals pitches. Having said that, it somewhat falls between the cracks on this record. The drum sound is suspect, but the solo, in contrast, is organic and metallic with a whammy bar that rules plain and simple. You just read, “plain and simple,” but the guitars are actually complex and technical. The Masque Of The Red Death is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, which was first published in 1842. In Dark Places – another impressive song title – exudes vocals that are different and more baritone. They also hint at Robert Lowe of Solitude Aeternus for a moment or two. It is an original composition that is brooding, but heavy and certainly has Led Zeppelin in its bones and rhythm track. The vocals and lyrics are articulately fabulous. One cannot get over that guitar tuning. It is so individual and original. All of that is true, but let us be frank with one other. Have you ever heard a song with the phrase "mystic moon" in it that was not fantastic?
“Through arching moonbeams of light we glide/In bending shadows of warm starlight/Angels of colors (sic) light the night as they fly/Transcending into the electric sky". Where Dragons Rule, which sounded in these towers like “Where the dogs rule,” is slow to mid-paced and deliberate. The riffs and vocals blow away the cobwebs nevertheless. One would expect more titles and fantasy lyrics like this song’s from a band called Crimson Glory. "In a world between myth and reality..," sings the band. There go those martial drums again. Lonely comes next and is the album’s official ballad. It was also the designated video for the album. Designed for airplay on MTV of the time, the band’s glam image and featured pretty actress should have done wonders for the act. Alas. Listen with a headphone and the song is, yes driven by Midnights dismal vocals that could transform any occasion to a sad one, and the interactions of the lead guitar and the aggressive chord of the rhythm guitarist. There are multiple vocal channels on the song and a bass that is perfect. The funky warm bass definitely needs to be heard through the earphone. We alluded to musicians being their own worst enemies earlier. Drugs were a fatal weakness in Crimson Glory and on Lonely she possibly drinks herself to death. The problem with the aforementioned image and video for anyone who was coming across the band for the first time through MTV would have been that they would assume the band is another Dokken. Nothing wrong with Dokken, but Crimson Glory was a different animal. Lonely is a good time to note how RoadRunner was the wrong label for this band and this album. The band was sold to Roadrunner by its smaller and earlier label, Par. It may have sounded beneficial and logical for Crimson Glory to be on a larger label that is more than a mom and pop, but Roadrunner of the time was busy with Atrophy, SOD and MOD and moreover, would soon find themselves busy with Obituary, whose debut sold 100,000 on the spot, and Exhorder and therefore Transcendence was a misfit. A half-hearted attempt at promotion was made in Europe but otherwise this LP was as under-rated as a good song in Kiss’ back catalogue. The quintet did not seek out RoadRunner even if they considered themselves fortunate at the time of transfer. Who was Crimson Glory supposed to tour with amongst their label-mates, Obituary and Sadus? The label also dropped the ball with the aforementioned Solitude Aeternus.
Burning Bridges starts as if it is another ballad - and like Lonely speaks to regrets - before picking up and going in a symphonic direction rather abruptly. The guitars have a little Mo More Tears vibe. Then there is the notable chords and inventive guitar tuning. The guitars diminish and the drums keep themselves in check in order to let Midnight shine and boy does the man shine. It must be so difficult to handle vocals in this manner. The music is different, but the dual vocal tracks are reminiscent of King Diamond and expressive. So much air is created in this manner. Kudos to drummer Dana Burnell for kicking in with those asynchronous rolls. The synthesized sounds, however, are New Wave-ish and as fluid as they are, could have remained more discreet or been omitted. Still, Midnight is above all of this and inhabiting his own ether on this non-linear song. Eternal World picks up the pace and leads the listener to the closing track Transcendence with its alternative melodies and duplicitous wobbly electric guitar over the acoustic strumming. The vocals have been processed and are retro sounding. Cleverly, the ending lines are, “It does not mean the end/It does not mean the end/No It never really ends.”
It is astounding that several of Transcendence’s songs were unfinished in advance and were only completed while recording at the studio. Kudos also goes to Tom and Jim Morris for their production at a studio that the world largely knows as the home of death metal. In reality, all sorts of bands, including sub-genres of metal, have recorded there to good effect.
The album’s cover artwork was intended for the movie poster of Lifeforce in Japan initially. This is worth mentioning because the depicted actress shares something with Crimson Glory. She is flawless in the film. The film too is a cult movie (referencing a cult band), but Mathilda May’s nude body is something to behold. In short, you need this album to hear and that movie to watch.
In Transcendence, art, ambition and ability come together for that bursting synthesis of creativity that is metal at its best. - Ali "The Metallian"