The Last of My Kind
posted on 11/2006 By:
What’s On Tap: If you’re the type of metalhead who feels our beloved genre has no room for bands paying homage to vintage heavy metal, kindly take a flying bite out of my ass and move on to the next review - this record will probably not pitch your tent. However, if you consider yourself a fan of fist-pumping, head-banging traditional heavy fuckin’ metal, get ready to dust off the ol’ studded gauntlets, because Crescent Shield is here to kick your ass back to 1985.
The Last of My Kind immediately brought back very warm memories of my life in Cleveland in the mid-to-late 80’s - a time when my friends and I would spend frozen Friday nights parked in a metalhead’s garage, secretly pounding pilfered Blatz beer while listening to Bill Peter’s Metal on Metal radio show to catch any up-and-coming bands in our burgeoning scene. Not only did Bill play all the stalwarts of the genre at the time, he also exposed Cleveland metalheads to loads of amazing local talents such as Purgatory, Shok Paris, Breaker, Destructor, Terror, and Wretch. I’m not spouting off names in some sort of attempt at über-metal name-dropping, I’m doing so because Crescent Shield sound as if they could have fit perfectly in my world during the mid-to-late 80's, directly alongside the aforementioned bands. These guys play a brand of metal that’s unafraid to extol about a fantasyland teeming with metal hordes raising fists and swords to the air as they run about gibbeting false purveyors and unbelievers at the command of the Metal Gods. This is classic heavy fuckin’ U.S. metal in the truest sense of the term. Think Piece of Mind era Iron Maiden (especially “Rise of the Crescent Moon” and “The Path once Chosen”) mixed with the heaviest parts of early Dio - you’re about halfway there. Beyond that, we need to take a quick peek at the pedigree of this impressive L.A. quartet in order to truly give you an understanding what they’re all about.
For those not already in the know, Crescent Shield began as a side-project for Destiny’s End guitarist, Dan DeLucie, and Onward vocalist, Michael Grant, but following both bands’ unfortunate demise, the two made the obvious decision to focus their full attention on their side endeavor. The result is a record that places a great deal of emphasis on Grant’s immediately distinguishable, deep, passionate vocals, and DeLucie’s impeccable, melodic lead work. As I mentioned earlier, much of the record has a very Piece of Mind feel to things, but one can also hear any number of other classic influences in the mix as well, especially in DeLucie’s guitar work (the Alex Lifeson-like pepperings throughout “The Path Once Chosen”, or the Ultimate Sin era Jake E. Lee soloing towards the end of “The Passing”, for example). But Grant and DeLucie aren’t the only talents on this ship, friends. Whenever the guitars are busy noodling, you can hear the amazing Steve Harris-like bass work of long-time California metaller, Melanie Sisneros, who honed her chops in New Eden (a band that also featured both DeLucie and Grant at one point), The Iron Maidens (all female Maiden cover band) and briefly with Finnish power metallers, Sinergy. And rounding things out beautifully in the skins department is O.C.’s drumming man-at-arms, Craig Anderson, of rock/hardcore champs, Ignite. So, as you can see, Crescent Shield brings a shitload of varied musical talents to the table, and The Last of My Kind does a wonderful job of letting each player shine throughout its eleven odes.
The only real issue I had with this record is the fact that it sounds like it was recorded too low. You really have to crank it to bring out its robustness, but once you do, things sound fine (just remember to turn the bastard back down again when you switch over to something else - a lesson I learned the hard way). Anyway, that's the reasoning behind the 4.5 production score, and it's honestly the only thing I could nitpick as a shortcoming for this impressive debut.
As you can obviously tell from my lengthy, enthusiastic scribblings above, I thoroughly enjoyed The Last of My Kind, and will continue to do so for quite some time. This is a record tailor-made for fans of old-school, traditional heavy metal, and I’d say you’d be a fool not to check it out if you’ve already been impressed with Cruz Del Sur’s offerings of Pharaoh, Slough Feg, Hammers of Misfortune, and Bible of the Devil. Come to think of it, this label’s building themselves one hell of a kick-ass roster of heavy metal bands, and Crescent Shield fits in the ranks perfectly. Definitely recommended.
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