Review: CRIME – Master of Illusion
Metalapolis Records (November 11th, 2022)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
The band CRIME were a little known band from the 90s that released two albums that sold a few thousand units upon initial release before calling it a day. Most of the band members decided to reunite with new singer Francis Soto to try their luck in 2022, at a time when hard rock is more well received. If you’ve never heard of the band, you are certainly not alone. This is a band I have never heard mentioned by anyone. They could have started a new band, and no one would have been the wiser that most of the band members were part of a former group.
I decided to do a quick search and found their first album online. There’s quite a big difference between the way the band use to sound and the way they sound now. If you are looking for a vibrant, hungry sounding band full of shredding guitars, you won’t find that here. They have replaced that sound with a tuned down heavy blues influence, for better AND for worse.
The band pulls off this style very well with certain songs, most of which can be found on the first half of the album. The title track opens the album and kicks things off in an up-tempo fashion. The new singer sounds great but it’s clear why the band tuned down for these songs. He does not have a high register and the notes need to match his vocal abilities. They play to his strengths and the song is a strong way to start the album.
From there we then have three mid-tempo heavy groove rockers and all of them offer the right amount of chugging guitar and low-end bombast. ‘Tears Are Falling Down’ has a Dokken “When Heaven Comes Down” feel to it. ‘From My Mind’ turns up the heaviness slightly and I love the vocal approach taken here, with Francis dropping his voice down into a guttural growl to sing the title of the track. ‘Shoot Shoot’ would be a great song if the Alannah Myles song “Black Velvet” never existed. They crib the rhythm section from that song and there’s no mistaking it. I did find it admittedly distracting.
It is at this point in the album that I started having some issues with it. The problem is that the next two songs also have a mid-tempo rhythm. I dig an album that has an array of rhythm and sounds. Speed shredding, up-tempo, mid-tempo, ballads, atmospheric orchestral; the more diverse for me the better. With this album, many of the drumbeats are either in 1/4 or 1/8 time, which is more groove oriented and slower. A few songs like that on an album are great, but when eight of the twelve songs are like that, it makes the album sound more plodding, especially by the time the second half of the album begins.
There are a few saving graces. ‘All Good Things’ is a welcome return to that Dokken influenced up-tempo sound after five mid-tempo tracks. The keyboards from Gunter Kierstein are also a stand-out here, making this the best track on the album. ‘Sisters of Mercy’ has a great riff and once again impressive keyboard playing and has that up-tempo approach that makes for an exciting rock sound.
The band attempts a stab at a ballad with ‘Showed Me Love’, but the vocals are all wrong for this track. Mr. Soto is not cut out for this type of vocal approach. The song sounds like it was written for a singer who can pull off a higher pitch and the grit in his voice does not suite the track at all. A shame really because the music and words are quite good.
So for me, there’s five solid tracks here. The lack in variation for me brings the album down. If you love a thick sounding, groove-based rock album, then your assessment of the album will be better. If I had a choice between this album and their first one, there’s no comparison, I prefer their debut album. It is best if you approach this album with the understanding that this is a new, rather than returning band and your expectations will be more managed when hearing the songs.