01 Hellvetia
02 Forever and eternally
03 My Life
04 Last dance
05 Opposites attract
06 Want it all
07 One day at a Time
08 Pictures of Love
09 Misery needs Company
10 Bird on a wire
11 Wasn't it love
12 Seing is believing - bonus track

Mark Sweeney - vocals

Scott Leach - Lead and rhythmic Guitar

Dany Schällibaum - Bass

Tom Graber - Keyboards - Guitar

Marcel Sardella - Drums


special: Mark at Kochduell

CRYSTAL BALL: "Hellvetia"    www.crystal-ball.ch             

Produced by Stefan Kaufmann  -  release date 03.11.2003

review   by dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo____    


History lesson: in the 1st century BC  the Celtic tribe of Helvetians left  Southern Germany in order to reach  the Central  Switzerland. They travelled west until they came near  the Romans (many of them were nothing but Celts as well coming of Northern Italy).  The Swiss Celtic population soon became assimilated into the Roman one and enjoyed peace and prosperity. Important towns grew up like Augusta Raurica and Aventicum. A wonderful net of roads  was connecting South and North involving also the Gotthard pass (irreplaceable  also today) . What does it remain of that period? a lot . Switzerland still has the name Confederatio Helvetica (CH, isn'it?)  still the celtic  blood reigns , still the unmistakable sign of civilation that Rome gave to whole Europe (no, rien à faire, i am not fan of Roman Empire though Italian , i "come" from Longobards sorry, but let's give to Caesar what  to Caesar belongs). Switzerland as alpine land developped also transverse  characteristics common to the alpine territories. And indeed it's a chorus typical of the Alps that opens this CD  . Hahhaha you were already perplexed and worried  eh? Mountain intro for this HELLvetia:  a kind of slow  yodeling  with Alphorn , which launch the hardrocking of the first song and title track Hellvetia . Well  Hellvetia : just a second  to be paraphrase  into  HeLLvetia , sweet tormenting fatherland, whose currency, the  Swiss Franc still (and pathetically imo)  resists the embrace of the Euro,  and is heroically represented on cover and CD. Godness Hellvetia with the cross upon the shield.  Damn the hell, you can notice at once that Crystal Ball   are good catchy and rocking , nothing exceptional but extremely agreeably but they sound like like ..like oh yes! WHITE LION  they sound like White Lion that meets Scorpion, the old Def Leppard and a bit, but just a drop  of Power Metal (oh thanks!) ; to all this  finally add the influence given from Saxon's Dogs of War too.  Hell just in theory, cause everything is rounded through melody, everything sounds softened, though there is the proper heaviness . Immediately i don't see many similitudes with the helvetian Gotthard. so how  the damn good  Crystal ball are, should we say! Let's say they are not bad at all, maybe a bit too easy , too catchy , but of course remarkable. therefore they should definately leave the frontiers of "HeLLvetian  patria" to reach a worldwide audience,  though Crystal Ball with their famous helvetian - cross T- shirts (see summerbreeze 2002 and Kochduell) seem to love their country so much,  that they  appear as ambassador and living flags. 

Forever and eternally is a lively Hard Rock. a bit balladesque , mid tempo rhythmed , just a bit anthemic, sonorities of the 80's and first 90's with fresh air,  "forever and eternally" a dream and a romantic thought, with  good lead guitar solos. 

A bit slower and intense is My Life , that has a rhythm and a sonority that reminds me even a bit  of Toto ,  a drop of  sadness meets a certain    optimistic vision : "this is my life now and forever",  we go towards our destiny, and let's never give up. Absolutely beautiful for those who love balladesque Hard Rock songs.

Last Dance is more lively again with some characteristics  of Def Leppard 's Hysteria era. Here again there is a window for a heavy  rhythmic section and lead solos that are not too high and  make a good counterpoint one another :  underlined bass the ones, outstanding but not intrusive the others. 

With Opposites attract we go darker and a bit faster, while with Want it all a crunchier and typical Heavy/ Power soundscape is unleashed in a sad, a bit anthemic song , underlined by choruses. cause the agreeable vocals, never too high (oh thanks!) are supported by good backvocals.   One Day at the time goes  back to a weeping  heavy mid tempo , with rhythmic section so near to the Heavy Metal, good vocal echo effects , a tormenting feeling, catchy and sad.   A bit more serene and  highly melodic  is Pictures of Love , typical in order to fly high away, lead solos among broken sound and high notes, a bit White Lion again.  Misery needs Company  goes faster with typical pushing drums and typical lead choked chord progressions. Many  notes of Bird on a Wire reminds me of Saxon's Hold on , a bit nervous but crunchy and pulsing, with very nice and overwhelming solos.

The track n 11 , Wasn'it Love is a melodic ballad supported also by piano and acoustic sounds , the typical romantic song to be heard at the light of a white candle.  "Trust in me tonight", while a tear falls down , really tender, suitable both for full-blooded Southern  audiences and  scandinavian ones , cause love has no frontiers.  Hellvetia  closes with a crunchy rhythmed  but always melodic bonus track: Seeing is believing, that is my fav of all, really cool, wide, round, heavy, crunchy , rasping but  sweet Rock of first class. Stuff to be heard at the shores of the Lugano lake. After all Ticino is always HeLLvetia...

In few words, from the dear Swiss land is coming out a good Hard Rock that with this new album have reached more maturity:  melody and melody always, catchiness, lots of influences from the 80's and first 90's ,  with a good quantity of  heaviness, but with a romantic touch that is always welcomed  at the end of story: a romantic hand that is smoothing every acute angle. A very enjoyable album where all the tracks are agreeable: if you like this music, or simply are romantic mooded, you will skip none of them. Among all the Swiss young bands that swim among Rock /Melodic  ,  Crystal Ball are surely the more constructive. Not very innovative at all, but they have the quality to melt very good all the influences: you can clearly cut with the knife all these inspirations , nevertheless you cannot blame them, you cannot say that they copy, and after all this is an ability at my eyes: anyway, they are able to   create a style that is quite different from Gotthard . Good the production, agreeable the vocals , the lyrics in  english are  totally comprehensible and intelligible (good to sing along) , they  are not that bad though nothing philosophic. You can enjoy this Hellvetia even if you are more into Metal than into Rock , while on the contrary, if you are in Melodic Rock , and in particular if you love White Lion, this CD is for you:  maybe you will smile a bit cause they're not those infernal  " wuthering  heights", but you will listen to this Hellvetia from its  beginning to its end and much more than one time.  A CD for you, rocking  melodic heLLhearts!

rating:  8/10 

dalia di giacomo    
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