CRIMSON GLORY – Transcendence


Release Date: January 17, 1988

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In 1988, 5 rockers collectively known as Crimson Glory came together in order to record the perfect Heavy Metal CD. The end result was their second album, Transcendence. The Metal Gods looked down upon them and saw that it was good.

Crimson Glory is a 5-piece Metal band from Florida, which was fronted at the time by inarguably one of the best lead vocalists in Heavy Metal history: Midnight. His screams and vocal range are legendary, and the guy can definitely sing! The rest of the extremely talented band consisted of the dual axe attack of Jon Drenning on lead guitar and Ben Jackson on rhythm guitar, with the backbone being provided by Jeff Lords on bass guitar and Dana Burnell on drums. All of the members of the band share credit for the musical and lyrical content of the CD.

Transcendence is one of those classics that every true headbanger should own. It IS almost the perfect Heavy Metal CD … it contains elements of Power, Progressive, Fantasy, Melodic, and Symphonic Metal all combined into one package. The pacing and song order are great, almost like a mini-concert, never becoming too fast or too slow with just the right dynamics to keep listener attention. The production and sound quality are perfect, no instrument or voice overpowers the other. Throughout the entire CD, there’s plenty of screaming harmony guitar work by Ben Jackson and Jon Drenning.

Transcendence opens up with a kick via “Lady of Winter,” a strong mid-tempo tune about the changing of seasons from winter to spring. It features some great guitar harmonies and progressive changes throughout the song. It’s reminiscent of a great opening tune at a live concert, featuring a glimpse of what is yet to come throughout the show.

The second cut on the CD, “Red Sharks,” is a true ass-kicking headbanger, and one of the fastest songs on the album. It’s a song about communist dictators, plain and simple. It’s also a defining vocal performance by Midnight … with him achieving high notes seemingly heretofore and ever after unattainable by the human voice, be it male or female. Add to that the pounding rhythm of the double bass drums and bass guitar, the screaming double guitar riffs of Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, and, of course, the great soloing by Jon Drenning, and you have the perfect Heavy Metal song. It’s a wonder and a mystery that there are no known covers of this tune. This song alone is worth the price of the CD.

Song number 3, “Painted Skies,” is a haunting, melodic semi-ballad that delves deeply into a woman’s state of mental health. It opens with a single folk guitar and vocals and builds from that point. The transition is masterful in that it seamlessly goes from being a quiet ballad to a full rocker during the bridge, and then back again. The song is sorrowful with just a glimmer of hope and the music conveys this perfectly. It is one of the songs that will stay with you long after the CD has stopped playing.

“Masque of the Red Death” kicks up the speed a notch or two and is based on the story by Edgar Allen Poe. The song features some great drumming by Dana Burnell, who proves that it is possible to use, without abusing, double bass drums. The overall tone of the song has an Egyptian flair that fits in nicely with the theme. You can almost imagine the red cloud passing over the desert on its way to the castle.

Coming in at 7:03, “In Dark Places” is the longest and possibly most disturbing tune on the CD. A man who is unhappy with life is standing on a gloomy shore, and is being called by an unseen force. Whether he is being called to his death or a perceived alternate reality is unknown, or perhaps they are one and the same. Needless to say, the music is very haunting and a bit slower than the more up-tempo songs, but has its rocking moments nonetheless.

“Where Dragons Rule” is somewhat self-explanatory as far as lyrical content, but is every D&D player’s fantasy come true. The tempo would best be described as a Heavy Metal march, with some awesome harmony guitar work. Again, the rhythm section of Jeff Lords and Dana Burnell sets the tone for this tune with some great drumming and bass playing. This song is very powerful to the ear as well as the imagination.

Crimson Glory had a hit single with the next selection, “Lonely,” which hit the charts in several markets. It’s another semi-ballad that really rocks out by the end of the song. The song features great dual lead riffs and a solid backbone with great transitions and timing. The song deals with a woman’s loneliness following a breakup.

“Burning Bridges” is a song about a relationship gone bad and how difficult it is to break it off. The song is more downbeat, it has to be to fit the lyrical content, but not slow by any means. There is a great lead guitar spotlight in the middle of the song that highlights Jon Drenning’s virtuosity. Again, a good, solid backbone with some really nice bass fills by Jeff Lords to round out the tune.

The shortest song on the CD at 3:54, “Eternal World” is one of those great kick ass songs that should last twice as long as it does. The gist of the song is of being in a different reality. This is probably the “heaviest” song on the CD. It features some blazing guitar work in conjunction with rapid fire double bass drumming and great screams by Midnight. It ends as quickly as it begins, leaving you wanting more.

Unfortunately, the song “Transcendence” is somewhat of a disappointment in that it starts with a nice kick and ends in a drone. That, and the fact that Midnight is using SFX on his voice, leads one to believe that the song was added almost as an afterthought.

All in all, Transcendence has stood the test of time for 18 years as a true classic Heavy Metal album, and will undoubtedly continue to stand the test of time for many years to come.


  • George Wagemann

    George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of a town about 35 miles southwest of Chicago, Illinois, USA. His parents bought him his first stereo and some cool music to go along with it including Led Zeppelin II, Foghat, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. He took private guitar lessons from the age of 10 through the age of 15. Throughout that time he played in various garage bands both on bass and lead guitars. He had gotten to the point where he was considered a “pretty decent” guitar player. Then, he heard Yngwie play for the first time and realized that “pretty decent” guitar players are a dime a dozen. He sold his guitars and gear not long after that. Of course after getting older and wiser he ended up regretting it. His favorite styles of Metal includes Power, Progressive, Hardcore, Thrash, Melodic Death Metal, and Euro-style Metal, which is far different than American-style Metal, which he also likes.

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