February 18, 2021

Crystallion is a German heavy metal band founded by bass guitarist Stefan Gimpi and drummer Martin Herzinger in 2003 with the debut album, A Dark Enchanted Crystal Night, being well received when released in 2006. The debut was an excellent hard hitting power metal album from a band with all of the necessary skills required to make a huge name for in the power metal market and marked them out as a band to watch with their style placed somewhere between Rhapsody Of Fire and Bonfire. Further releases saw slight developments and changes in their style but they remained very firmly within the heavy rock arena.

The variation in sound is mainly the result of quite a few changes in personnel over the years but the biggest by far was the departure of long standing vocalist Thomas Strübler in 2018 and, sometimes, a new singer can be a fresh stimulus for a band but they have to be chosen carefully because you risk alienating the fanbase if you get it wrong. I’m sure, therefore, that it came as something of a shock when the band announced that the change would be truly radical and thus ushered in the female voice of Kristina Berchtold. This also seems to have given the band the chance to re-evaluate the style further and sees them start to move away from the power metal we are all used to as they seem to have gone for a still heavy but far more melodic approach on Heads Or Tails. The nearest I can think to the style that they have intended is Pat Benatar who can, and still does, rock big style but is also excellent at the radio friendly huge power ballads. Herzinger remains with Werner Hießl being a very hard working and riff heavy guitarist and Steve Hall comes in on bass.

Musically, the new direction is interesting and the band has written a set of songs with a touch more commerciality about them but they still throw in enough riffs and solos to please. However, the big talking point is going to be the voice of Kristina Berchtold which just doesn’t seem powerful enough for the band and she does seem to struggle a little on some notes. Now, it may be that she is a mighty fine singer and possible the engineering and production has let her down but whatever the reason, I’m afraid to say that Heads Or Tails simply does not work. Hopefully, she will grow into the role but I believe some of the older fans are going to be a little disappointed with this album.

Heads Or Tails track list

  1. Heads Or Tails (2:29)
  2. Knights And Heroes (4:08)
  3. Living On A Lie (4:31)
  4. Save Me (3:56)
  5. I’m On Fire (5:07)
  6. The Sleeping Emperor (5:46)
  7. Ready For The Sin (4:51)
  8. The King Is Rising (4:55)
  9. Under The Spell (3:51)
  10. The Wild Hunt (3:59)
  11. Thunderclouds (3:49)