Cryptex – “Once Upon A Time” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Definitely one of the most fascinating and musically impressive bands to have arisen over the last decade, Cryptex mix classic rock inspired by Queen with classic prog defined by Genesis and the metallic sounds of Iron Maiden to create an experience of going beyond their music (which, by the way is pretty fantastic) to living a veritable fairy tale! But there’s more…much more when you add in the choral harmonies, spoken narrations, delicate piano work, slick but big guitars and of course, beautiful flowing orchestrals to melt your heart while also providing plenty of drama. Formed in 2008 and since releasing 2 full length albums and a live DVD, this German band have played 250 concerts in 23 European countries and supported Alice Cooper, Pain Of Salvation and Threshold as well as playing US shows and their own headliner tours. Founded by lead vocalist / keyboardist / bassist Simon Moskon, the drive to produce multifaceted, genre diverse music has defined Cryptex and is no less in the 12 magical tracks making up “Once Upon A Time”, which is built on their debut but with a lot more experience gained by the band both as musicians and people. Opening the doors to a new realm on the title track ‘Once Upon A Time’, the pomp majesty is undeniable, as are Moskon’s charismatic prog inspired vocals, while the deep guitars soon sink their epic hooks in, becoming more moving as they get heavier and when added to by the strong orchestrals, set you up brilliantly for the harmony chorus resonating wonder and passion – an incredible start! Starting serenely through light touch piano keys matched by Moskon’s enchanting tones, ‘Two Horned Crown’ soon takes off when the blinding guitars, pumping synths and drums inject their power atop which prog harmony choirs backed by stirring violins take their wizardry to immeasurable levels on the senses and your soul. Manifesting their artistic charm on ‘I Don’t Know Why’ with its cabaret sound reminiscent of Styx, while stylishly wrapped in a folk prog wrapper of hearty lead piano backed by touching guitar melodies, Moskon shows his vocal measure on one of the less busy and quieter pieces to brilliant effect. Indeed, the arrangements and composing are second to none throughout this fantastic album, which is as marvelous as it is moving in every conceivable way.