1-25 - Music Review: CRYSTAVOX - The 20 Year MixCRYSTAVOX
The 20 Year Mix
Roxx Records

Crystavox was a band that existed in the 80s through the earlier part of the 1990s, from what I could gleen from the interwebs, that played a style of hard rockin’ metal that was at times melodic and commercial, like with Warrant, Guardian and Winger, but also wasn’t afraid to venture into heavier metal territories, at times hitting a Judas Priest and Blizzard-era Ozzy level. Not too many 80s metal bands could manage to do that, especially ones geared more for the Christian market.

They released two albums in their time: the self-titled Crystavox in 1990 on Regency Records, and the followup The Bottom Line in 1992 on Ocean Records. While both of these albums are woefully out of print, back in 2010 Roxx Records put out a “best of” of sorts, one that’s a bit different than your normal collections of this sort. See, the songs themselves not only have been remixed and remastered, but partially re-recorded by the band, with “new guitars, drums and oversampling…increasing the mastered volume of each song to today’s standards.” Yeah, I got that from the official statement regarding this recording.

In case you were morbidly curious, I got my copy as a digital download purchased through Amazon, which is where and how I buy my \,,/METAL\,,/ these days. Which means, I got the 12-track version only. And I’m fine with that, really. I had only heard about Crystavox in passing through the years, and never really had much of a chance to check them out properly. Listening to The 20 Year Mix, I now kinda wish I had, as the music on here is rather good melodic metal and hard rock, something that would not have sounded dated at all considering the time frame in which the original releases were.

Here, the songs picked for the overhaul treatment are “Power Games”, “Sacrifice”, “Home Again”, and “It’s All Right (To Rock N’ Roll)” from Crystavox, and “Cry Out”, “Break Down The Wall”, “Stick To Your Guns”, “Shame”, “Paradise”, “No Boundaries”, “The Big Picture” and “Snakes In The Grass” from The Bottom Line. Since I can’t really do a comparison with these and the original recordings, I’ll just say that these songs sound great production-wise. They’re just the right level of quality without getting too slick or over-produced. There’s two BALLAD ALERTs to watch out for, which is to be expected (“Home Again” and “No Boundaries”), and “Power Games” is not really a power ballad, but it does come dangerously close to over-sappification. The rest, though, is a feast of melodic metal, straight-ahead heavy rock numbers full of guitar hooks and fist-in-the-air rhythms. The two real standouts here, though, are the Randy Rhodes style blistering guitar work on “Sacrifice”, and the near-power metal levels on “Paradise”. I would not have minded an entire album full of that kind of metal, but for the most part, the quality of the hard rock and metal that these guys played makes me regret having missed out on these guys back when they were first released.

Besides the digital download, there’s also a physical CD that came with a DVD disc with live footage of the band, and pre-orders came with a bonus disc that included the demo EP they put out before the albums. That was back in 2010, mind you. I didn’t really look into whether this was still available as a physical CD, but if you’re fine with the digital download, the basic album is available for purchase. Which I recommend you look into.