Someone once said that more new varieties of plants and critters are discovered in one’s own back garden and in this case, it applies to music as well. South Africa has a pool with a depth of talent, but some genres just don’t have the market penetration – progressive rock being one of the main sufferers. But this is not a lecture on the South African music industry, but a wonderful surprise about someone who has dared to break the commercial mold.
Crimson Chrysalis consists of Rene Van Den Berg, she has worked on this project for 3 years or so, and it shows. It is a venture into symphonic rock, not as hard and edgy as After Forever (think ‘Energize Me’), the ‘Tarja’ Nightwish or Lana Lane, but that’s not a bad thing at all by any means.
I think you could class it as light-symphonic rock for the sake of a putting it into a box. The focus of the album is on the lyrics and these are penned by Esther Slabbert. Each song comprises of meaningful lyrics and backed by strong melodies with some complex arrangements.
The album starts off almost like a movie soundtrack, but then the big symphonic sound disappears and almost goes into a pop-rock duet. I must admit that the male vocal does not do Rene’s voice justice, she needed to go up against a harsher male voice, in my opinion. It’s a radio friendly track but the next tune,’Deo Volente’ turns this perception on it’s head, and we get to grips with Rene’s vocals and where Crimson Chrysalis really is at.. It’s a fine ballad, with big guitar intro and then Rene’s soft vocals come in. It’s a great track and my personal favourite.
The rest of the tracks are in a similar vain, nothing to harsh but Rene’s powerful and sultry vocals add to the rich tone of the album. The title track “Crimson Passion Play” is an almost solely orchestral, uplifting in an anthemic ‘Meatloaf’ kind of way.
“Dragon’s Roar” starts as a haunting track, that builds nicely and flows into passionate cry. It’s one for the time that you are down and need a good pick me up!
I am not sure what Rene’s influences are, but I even picked up on some Edgar Broughton (could that be true?!?)
It is a really great album that one can listen to without intrusion and is an easy choice for another play. The production is good given the fact that progressive music of this kind is not big in South Africa, but any good symphonic prog producer hearing this will see the huge potential.
Crimson Chrysalis have something here, and they need to get to the market outside of South Africa, perhaps the track “Blood Diamond: with its gentle ethnic intro will provide for a differentiator in the symphonic prog genre and preferably get Crimson Chrysalis right to the top where they deserve to be.