Virtual Empire

Crystal Ball

Just when I say that classic heavy rock is almost dead and nothing new is […]
By Dimitris Antoniou
May 13, 2002
Crystal Ball - Virtual Empire album cover

Just when I say that classic heavy rock is almost dead and nothing new is coming out with the old 80s sound, a band appears and proves me a liar. This time the band is called Crystal Ball and indeed they sound very promising.
Following the traditions of Pretty Maids, Pink Cream 69, Heaven's Gate, and from the glam/hard rock bands of the 80s (like Europe, Dokken, Def Leppard), the 5 guys from Switzerland have released a classic CD, full of melodic heavy metal with its own special identity, even though their influences are pretty strong and easily recognizable in their music.
The strong aspect of the album is their amazing guitarist Scott Leach, a die hard fan of John Norum of Europe and Malmsteen, as you can tell from his fancy melodic solos and riffs. Tommy Newton (the producer - also worked with Helloween and Scorpions in the past) did a great job in putting everything together and make them sound as terrific as they are.
The CD opens with 2 killer tracks, Hands of God and Savage Mind. From the very early start Crystal Ball make it clear that they want to impress you. Heavy hard rockish riffs, melodic leads and a bass that gives that nice 80s feeling Pretty Maids have. What may alienate you a bit is the peculiar voice of Mark Sweeney. He really does a good job when he sings in a rough, hard way, but he misses it a bit when he reaches higher notes. Once you get used to it however, you realise that he is indeed very good and that he fits great with the music of Crystal Ball.
The CD continues with many good songs that will stick in your mind (especially their nice catchy choruses). Dance of the Devil and When the night is over are 2 more tracks that show the real talent of the band. The only ballad of the album, Look in my Eyes, is also very good and Mark Sweeney will impress you with the feeling in his voice.
Crystal Ball seems to have a brilliant future in front of them. Even if not many heavy metal fans listen to that kind of music anymore, those that do will surely appreciate and embrace their music. It's good that we have bands like Crystal Ball to keep the spirit of this music alive.

7 / 10


"Virtual Empire" Track-listing:

3rd dimension
Hands of god
Savage mind
Am I free?
Virtual empire
Night and day
Dance with the devil
When the night is over
Blind side
Talk in circles
Look in my eyes
Private visitor
Find your ground

Crystal Ball Lineup:

Mark Sweeney - vocals
Scott Leach - lead  & rhythm  guitars
Tom Graber - keyboard  & rhythm guitars
Dany Schällibaum - bass
Marcel Sardella - drums

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