Polish band Crystal Lake was founded in 2003 as a five-piece progressive metal band. Safe is their debut album containing music in the vein of bands like Shadowland and Arena. So in general, you can expect neo-progressive rock instead of prog metal. The first track Way Of Dream is the instrumental opener of this album. The several changes in tempo and key and the varied guitar solos of Marcin Gawalek make this an interesting piece. We’ll Be Safe introduces lead singer Adam Plotnicki. On the whole his rather common voice sounds well, although sometimes he has to force it. Again it’s Marcin who gives the track something extra with his melodic solos. Rose is slightly heavier than the other tracks, but I certainly won’t call it prog metal.
The piano of Pjotr Wypech opens Flame Of Soul, but soon Plotnicki and Gawalek join and this time the pace increasingly accelerates. My personal favourite is Crystal Lake, the longest track named after the band. It reminded me very much of Treshold having the same dark structures with heavy guitars, powerful drums by Krysztof Grzelak, a pumping bass guitar by Lukasz Biénkowski and a pretty good vocal performance. The final track I’m Free begins slowly like a ballad, but after a minute it changes into another progressive track with plenty of solos. The vocals are a bit strained in this piece, but the instrumental passages are much better than in an average progressive rock song.
Safe is not a bad album, but the compositions are too mediocre to become a classic progressive rock album, although it has some fine moments to enjoy.
** Cor Smeets (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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