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I’m going to have admit defeat with ‘Mankind Is Obsolete’, the debut full length album from Crimson Rain. Reviews are just one person’s opinion and we could all argue endlessly over what piece of music is better or worse, but I think in well over thirty years of listening to rock and metal I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve ended up arguing with myself over the plusses and minuses of an album. If my local hospital could see me now they would be sending over the strait jacket as I type this!

Crimson Rain are a four piece that hail from Argovia, Switzerland and their press release describes them as follows: “Crimson Rain manage to build bridges between ambiency soundscapes, odd-time signatures, flawlessly breath-taking guitar solos and blast beats, presented in a Jimi Hendrix shirt”. Well, apart from the fact that no-one is flawless, that’s a pretty good description. They are essentially a prog metal/rock band, with a few faster sections and plenty of ambient and acoustic passages and even a little jazz and swing. It’s pretty heavy in places, bringing to mind the obvious comparisons of Dream Theater, Symphony X and Opeth. Riffs abound and are very good but what makes this different and, therefore, an anomaly for me is apparent in the vocals of Florian Siegrist. His delivery is reminiscent of an indie/alternative singer and that doesn’t sit particularly comfortably with me. Good prog metal needs variation and he does supply that but the angst ridden, more commercial sound that escapes sometimes grates on me and unless I’m missing something completely his “deep and meaningful lyrics” make no sense to me whatsoever, perhaps because English is not the native language of the band. At least he actually hits all of the notes, unlike some similar vocalists.

Similarly, the production is astounding, too good in fact, and then you read that pretty much all the instruments were recorded at different studios and that for me takes away a ‘band’ feel to proceedings. I know it is a more common thing nowadays, especially when some bands’ members live on different corners of the globe, but I don’t think in this case there was any need for it. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but sometimes less clinical works better? Alain Liesch (drums), Vito Marrella (bass) and Matthew Lewis (guitar) are all fantastic exponents of their instruments and the heavier passages that do not have vocals work best for me. First track proper, ‘Endgame’, is my favourite because at least Florian’s vocals have more bite. If he were to employ this style more often, I would be happier.

‘Mankind Is Obsolete’ is a great album but not my cup of tea, is hugely diverse, but it all sounds a bit similar, has a sublime sound, but is too sterile and has my foot tapping almost constantly, only for my brain to say ‘what the hell are you doing that for’? If that is what prog, of any sort, is all about, then Crimson Rain are to be congratulated for confusing me completely. Is this to be scored as a 5 or an 8? In the interests of fairness I’m taking the middle ground and letting you, dear reader, work out the rest!
Review by Rick Tilley
31st March 2013
1) Intro
2) Endgame
3) Vigour of the Law
4) Raise of the Indignant
5) Our Gleam of Hope
6) Leap of Faith
7) Heliocentric
"...the heavier passages that do not have vocals work best..."