Album of the Week 38-2014: Crows – The Dying Race


There are albums that should have been heard (and loved) by everyone, but just don’t get heard by anyone. It could be a matter of bad timing, lacking promotion or just simply bad luck. For Germany’s Crows, it’s a matter of “all of the above”, although the lack of promotion is something they had agreed on with their label Century Media Records. That did, however, keep a lot of people from hearing this genuine masterpiece of melodic, powerful and semi-progressive Heavy Metal. Even when drummer Bobby Schottkowski and guitarist Bernd Kost joined Thrash legend Sodom about half a decade later, the album didn’t get the attention it deserved.

Stylistically, Crows’ music is something of a mixture of the best elements of melodic German Speed Metal and early US Power Metal. Those who know Schottkowski and Kost from their tenure in Sodom will probably be surprised by the enormous amount of melody heard on ‘The Dying Race’. The album is full of awesome twin guitar lines, old school Heavy Metal riffs, unexpected twists in the songwriting department and blazing solos by Kost and fellow guitarist Jochen Kalpein, often backed with riffing that lends it a slightly dramatic edge.

Polish siren Leszek ‘Leo’ Szpigiel joined Crows shortly before the recording of ‘The Dying Race’ and delivers the best performance of his carreer here. His melodies are slightly lower than those familiar with his work may expect, which adds a lot of balls to his parts. However, the most redeeming factor about the vocals are the brilliant harmonies and little call-and-response bits he does, such as in the chorus of the moving opening track ‘The Frantic Factor’. It’s those harmonies that get passages from the mind blowing ‘We Are The Storm’ and the menacing ‘East Of Eden’ stuck in your head forever.

Despite the consistently high level on ‘The Dying Race’, there’s four songs that stand out. Which isn’t too bad if you consider that’s half the album. ‘The Frantic Factor’ and ‘We Are The Storm’ are fantastic examples of how Metal can be aggressive, melodic, catchy and interesting at the same time, while ‘Four’ is a riff fest the likes of which were very few in number in 1991 that gets your blood boiling, while the closing title track brings all of the album’s melodic qualities, prowess in the musicianship department and progressive structures together in a simply irresistable track.

For those wondering about the aging Native American on the album cover: the lyrics on ‘The Dying Race’ are based on Native American history. Kalpein, who penned all of them, has studied the subject and delivered us lyrics that are more than an excuse to sing about fighting cowboys. A nice extra touch to an already great album.

While Crows never got the recognition they deserved, the digital age that we live in these days does provide a new chance to check out this incredible material. In fact, US based label Divebomb Records has re-released the album with all of the band’s demo’s as bonus. I suggest you will at least give this a listen, because it’s hard to find a Metal album these days where melody, aggression and intelligence go hand in hand as well as on ‘The Dying Race’.

Recommended tracks: ‘Four’, ‘The Frantic Factor’, ‘The Dying Race’, ‘We Are The Storm’

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