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4.26 | 43 ratings | 10 reviews
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Album · 1988


1. Lady Of Winter (3:59)
2. Red Sharks (4:48)
3. Painted Skies (5:13)
4. Masque Of The Red Death (4:12)
5. In Dark Places (6:58)
6. Where Dragons Rule (5:04)
7. Lonely (5:17)
8. Burning Bridges (6:29)
9. Eternal World (3:50)
10. Transcendence (4:30)

Total Time: 50:24


- Midnight / vocals
- Jon Drenning / guitars
- Ben Jackson / guitars
- Jeff Lords / bass
- Dana Burnell / drums

About this release

Release date: November 1, 1988
Label: Roadrunner Records

Thanks to progshine, colt, adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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'Transcendence' is the album that many Crimson Glory fans (do these still exist???) consider their finest work. And it'd be hard to disagree. Good, quality metal riffing with some nice melodies and interesting twin-guitar harmonies is something I feel that modern metal seems to be lacking, but this album has in abundance, showing you how to get the most out of two guitars.

Everything about this album is a huge improvement upon the groups self-titled debut (which is an album I struggled to enjoy, for no reason in particular). The songwriting is a lot more mature and the guitar harmonies are more consistently interesting than before. Midnight's ungodly vocal range truly shines here with a much more precise production that perfectly suits the music and the era in which it was released.

Guitarists Ben Jackson and Jon Drenning really are two sides of the same coin, with their twin-guitar assault being highly reminiscent of metal greats such as James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray, or Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman... or pretty much any other guitarist who's been in Megadeth... the chemistry between the two really is that good, and it's a travesty that they would have such a limited output over the years.

Almost every track offered here is a hit, with only a couple towards the end feeling like they were chucked in to extend the duration of the album. 'Lady of Winter', 'Red Sharks', 'Masque of the Red Death' and 'Where Dragons Rule' are some of the finest, most energetic and enthusiastic power metal songs you can find, and of course, there's also the hit single 'Lonely', which is the song that originally led me to purchasing this record in the first place!

It's a shame that a band such as Crimson Glory never truly lived up to the potential that they had in their prime, but if 'Transcendence' is forever to be considered their finest work, then that's a pretty damn good achievement.
"Transcendence" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US power metal act Crimson Glory. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in November 1988. Crimson Glory was formed in 1979 under the Pierced Arrow monicker but changed their name to Beowulf in 1982, before finally settling on the Crimson Glory monicker in 1983. They released their eponymously titled debut album in October 1986. No lineup changes have happened since the debut, so the lineup still consists of Midnight (vocals), Jon Drenning (guitars), Ben Jackson (guitars), Jeff Lords (bass), and Dana Burnell (drums).

Stylistically the music on "Transcendence" continues the US power metal style of the debut album. It´s intense, melodic, and powerful metal with a commanding, raw, and very high pitched vocalist in front. Midnight is a vocalist extraordinaire, who in addition to his incredible high pitched screams also deliver very convincing and more raw mid-range vocals (listen to his pretty fierce delivery on "Red Sharks" for an example of that). The instrumental performances are also of high class, and both the rhythm section and the two guitarists deliver their parts with raw bite, conviction, and a burning passion, that leaves no doubt that these guys mean business. And that is one of Crimson Glory´s great strengths. No matter how melodic and catchy their material can be there´s always a good balance between that part of their sound and a harder edged and more aggressive beast just lurking beneath the surface.

The material on the 10 track, 50:24 minutes long album is well written. While all tracks are melodic and catchy if listened to individually, "Transcendence" is an album that requires a few spins to settle though. Not because it´s overtly complex or hard to follow in any way (the tracks are all "regular" structured vers/chorus compositions), but because the high pitched vocals and harmony choirs (however lovely they are), can be a bit hard to handle for 50 minutes straight. Highligts on the album include "Lady Of Winter", "Red Sharks", "Masque Of The Red Death", and the melodic power balled "Lonely", but it is an album which is consistent in both quality and style.

So upon conclusion "Transcendence" is overall a very strong album by Crimson Glory. The sound production is powerful, detailed and clear sounding, the musicianship is on a high level on all posts, and the songwriting is inspired. The album simply reeks class and sophistication, but as mentioned above also raw heavy metal power, to ensure a good balance. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
Transcendence (1988) is the second full-length album by US metal act Crimson Glory. 1988 was quite a special year for metal music in my opinion. Not only did Iron Maiden put out their classic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in 1988, Metallica also produced their last really excellent record in ...And Justice for All. Most metalheads probably know of those records (and if you don't you must be living under a rock or something). But I wonder if they also know about how much the power metal scene, that's both the European and US varieties, was flourishing in 1988? In Germany Helloween released Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II and Running Wild released Port Royal. Though still more of a speed metal act at that point, Blind Guardian also made their debut with Battalions of Fear. Crimson Glory's Transcendence belongs to the USPM side of the genre where in 1988 it had good company with Attacker's The Second Coming, Liege Lord's Master Control and Helstar's A Distant Thunder. Yeah, 1988 was power metal's year and I don't care who says otherwise.

The thing with Transcendence in all of this is that it's probably the most different album of the lot. USPM usually leans towards one of two ways, a harder edged sound or a more melodic sound that some refer to as blue-collar and white-collar USPM respectively. All those other releases I mentioned are of the harder kind. Transcendence focuses on the melodic side. The album is now commonly considered, along with the band's self-titled debut from 1986, to be one of the quintessential textbook albums of this sound and for good reason.

It's 2015 now which makes Transcendence twenty-seven years old at the time of writing and it's interesting to see how divided modern metalheads are on what this album actually is. I personally would belong to the group that acknowledges Transcendence as a USPM classic if forced to decide, but just as many metalheads now see the album as an early example of progressive metal, in a not too dissimilar way to how the earlier works of Fates Warning are regarded (personally I would regard Fates Warning's Awaken the Guardian (1986) as more of a USPM release as well). More still now believe artists like Crimson Glory were just traditional metal bands. In truth, I would say that there is no single right answer here or no wrong ones. Calling a releases like Transcendence progressive heavy/power metal is about the most accurate description you could find for Crimson Glory's music, though if you came to this release expecting modern or even early 90's standards for progressive metal, you'd probably come away disappointed. In my view the album's main appeal with always rest with traditional metal and power metal fans.

There's one song I really want to talk about more than any other from Transcendence. Red Sharks. It's the second track into the ten track album and was the first Crimson Glory song I ever heard. At the time my tastes were a bit different and I didn't go much on it, but as I got more into power metal I found an appreciate for the song and band in general and I believe I can say with confidence that Red Sharks is my favourite Crimson Glory song. A mini-masterpiece of some of the album's faster riffs, excellent melodies and killer vocals from singer Midnight (real name John Patrick McDonald, Jr.). The high register vocals nearer the end are especially good. Midnight sadly died in 2009 (Anyone else ever noticed that dying young seems to have been the fate of many vocalists from USPM acts?) and this song alone shows how much of a loss he was to the metal scene.

The album is excellent from start to finish though. Red Sharks is the highlight but certainly not one without competition from the rest of the album. Lady of Winter, Masque of the Red Death, Eternal World...all equally killer tracks. For me the album as a whole proved to be a grower but ultimately it's hard not to acknowledge that Transcendence fully deserves the classic status it is commonly deemed to hold. Metalheads around the world may not agree exactly what type of metal it is a classic of, but it's certainly one that all should be making an effort to check out whether they missed it at the time or were born later and may not have heard of Crimson Glory before. They sadly didn't leave that much of a legacy after the 80's. After Transcendence the band released Strange and Beautiful (1991), a very different record that I personally don't consider metal and after which they broke up. Reforming for a time in 1999 without Midnight they produced a fourth album, Astronomica (1999), a return to metal but in my opinion it lacked the magic of the first two albums. As far as anyone knows the band has been technically active again since 2005 and were for a time fronted by Todd La Torre (who replaced Geoff Tate in Queensrÿche in 2012), but they since seem to have faded into obscurity again, with Todd La Torre known to have quit in 2013. A crying shame really considering the strengths of both Transcendence and it's predecessor but that's how these things go sometimes I guess. 5 stars.
With a twin-guitar lineup and a vocalist - the mysterious Midnight - whose delivery reminds me a lot of the better Geoff Tate performances, you could be forgiven for thinking that Crimson Glory were just riding the Queensryche bandwagon, though musically speaking I find their material a bit more hard-edged than the 'ryche's post-Warning stuff - in fact, it's more along the lines of early Fate's Warning a lot of the time. Competent stuff, in short, though I feel that the album hasn't aged quite as well as Fate's Warning's material from the same era and if you're after truly experimental progressive metal you'll probably find it a little tame.
Man i love this style of music. CRIMSON GLORY were one of the early American Prog-Metal bands along with DREAM THEATER, FATES WARNING and QUEENSRYCHE to wreak musical havok. This is their second album and by far their best from 1988. The vocals are done by this guy known only as Midnight and they are fantastic ! He reminds me of Rob Halford when he screams the lyrics. A very cool looking album cover too which fits the album's title really well. And yes this brings back the eighties to my mind everytime i listen to it. "Burning Bridges" is probably my favourite track. The intricate guitar and almost spacey background contrasts well with the more uptempo sections with the grinding guitar. The title track is different as we get some atmosphere that is almost haunting and synths. "Eternal World" kicks ass throughout. Easily 4 stars for this legendary album.
Crimson Glory’s “Transcendence” is one of the early prog metal albums coming in at the end of the 80s decade. As such it suffers from the 80s hangover but still manages to captivate with some masterful tracks that are incredibly complex and intelligently structured.

One of the most dynamic tracks is ‘Eternal World’ with amazing speed picking, screaming lead solos and unbelievable vocals from iconic screamer, Midnight. The tempo changes and melody are enhanced by accomplished fast guitar riffage and atmospherics.

The power metal of ‘Lady of winter’ is a dynamic opener with a killer riff and excellent vocals. This was the sound of 80s metal when metal really took off and spawned some of the most amazing bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer and Megadeth. These bands dominated the 80s but Crimson Glory fell below the radar for me although I was heavily into metal at the time. The band are definitely very accomplished musicians, the lead guitar is incredible by Jon Drenning, backed up by the rhythm guitar of Ben Jackson. The rhythm machine of bass from Jeff Lords and percussion by Dana Burnell are never less than technical.

There are the obligatory acoustic power ballad segments such as on the opening of ‘Burning Bridges’. All metal albums seemed to have these moments. The lead guitar work on this is excellent with soaring passionate string bends. The solo at the end is worth waiting round for, fast arpeggios and speed picking merged with a steady tempo.

Another highlight is ‘In Dark Places’, one of the longer songs at 7 minutes, with Midnight sounding emotional and passionate. This one admittedly sounds like the type of metal of the year 1988, along with Megadeth’s “So Far, So Good, So What”, Helloween’s “Keeper Of The Seven Keys”, Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime”, Fate’s Warning’s “No Exit”, Iron Maiden’s “Seventh Son of a Seventh son”, Metallica’s “And Justice for All”, and Slayer’s “South Of Heaven”. As you can see it was definitely a year of metal with some of the best albums coming out one by one. The template was to present shredding, melodic riffs, amazing lead breaks and powerhouse vocals. Midnight was certainly one of the best vocalists but he was in good company with the likes of Dickenson, and Tate. Even Christian metal sounded like this, with the high vocals and shredding guitars.

What made Crimson Glory stand out within the maelstrom of metal that dominated in this era? The intricacy and technicality of the music was a key factor. The album features strong prog elements that would bring something new to the scene. Listen to ‘Masque of the Red Death’ for some technical guitar riffs and especially Burnell’s sporadic drumming. In the half time feel the guitars blaze with soaring twin lead harmonics, until Drenning takes over with screaming lead wizardry. The pitchy singing is vibrant and Midnight is revered in metal history for this type of singing.

‘Painted Skies’ begins with acoustics, Midnight singing melancholy lyrics, “spread your wings, you can fly, But the dove is never free, In painted skies that shade the colour of your dream, Only nightmares are real, Confusion conceals the only reason for the feelings you can't hide.” It sounds a bit like Queensryche, namely ‘Lady In Black’. The melodic sound is compelling, but it is the guitars on this that lift it, especially the towering lead break and more aggressive riffing.

Another softer balladic song is ‘Lonely’ with nice harmonics and vocals. The sadness is wrapped in well written lyrics about unrequited love; “She awakens from a dream to a silent room, where shadows speak of memories, Another sleepless night afraid to face the day.” The song builds into a heavier riff though maintains the melancholy style. ‘Red Sharks’ is a faster shredder with more aggressive vocals. The lyrics are very anti communist; “Give us your freedom, we'll give you hell, Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil, Glory to red sharks, Answer to your red dictators, Feeding from your dreams, Cast into a sea of red sharks.” The faster Crimson Glory is irresistible but there are dated anthemic vocals that could be excised. The guitars make up for it though particularly when the lead break crunches in with speedy licks, duel hammer ons and power riffing. The technical riff at 3:40 that gallops is one of my favourites on the album.

‘Where Dragons Rule’ is worth a mention too especially for Midnight’s high octave screeches. It even reminds me of Judas Priest style riffing, very steady and precise. It sounds a bit Spinal Tappish with the bombastic male chorus vocal yells and overall lyrics, but it holds well due to incredible lead breaks and vocals.

The album is hailed as a masterpiece of metal by many and is highly revered for the late Midnight’s legacy and overall metal technique. Midnight died of a kidney and liver failure at the age of 47 in 2008. One of the first prog metal albums, “Transcendence” must rank highly as an influence to prog metal to come in the 90s decade.
Conor Fynes
'Transcendence' - Crimson Glory (8/10)

This album holds a special place for me. It's technically the first progressive metal album I ever bought, and my very first taste of prog-metal. I remember being twelve years old and thinking it was the most amazing thing ever after listening to the CD a few times. Years later, I still think of it very fondly.

While Crimson Glory had a relatively short streak of true musical quality (their first two albums, including this one) and the rest of their music is more or less disposable, this band certainly had a profound impact on Progressive metal. While Dream Theater was still under the name of Majesty, and Fates Warning was still essentially an Iron Maiden clone, this band was writting some very interesting prog material. That's not to say they were the first prog-metal band, but they were with the movement pretty close to the start. 'Transcendence' marked the height of Crimson Glory's glory. It is a fantastic, albeit flawed work, and I can credit it to opening up my now-preferred genre of music.

The three highlights on the album find themselves in 'In Dark Places,' 'Burning Bridges,' and the title track 'Transcendence.' It is in these songs that a really progressive sound can be heard. The rest of the album is something along the lines of power metal, with traces of prog. Being that I am a fan of both subgenres of metal, this album finds a good place in my heart.

The problem with the band's music (although it's not a major one) is that the lyrics can get a bit annoying. While the band is certainly not 'emo' by any stretch of the imagination, the lyrics are pessimistic and morose to the point of making the music sound corny. The title track has some rather introspective and atmospheric lyrics though, that I enjoyed.

'Transcendence' is an amazing work, and one of the inaugural works of progressive metal. Not the most progressive album (although it's more progressive than most metal albums at the time) but it's some of the best prog/power metal ever done in the '80s. In a decade of mediocrity, this album stands out.

Members reviews

It was also surprise for me to find Crimson Glory classified as Power Metal, although Power Metal fans would definetely love this album. I would agree with those who consider Crimson Glory to be one the first bands playing Progressive Metal, not to forget Fates Warning, of course.

'Eternal World' and 'Transcendence' sound progressive even according to modern definition of this style.

In the end, it is not so important which style of music it is. It is enough to say the album is simply brilliant. Midnight's vocal is outstanding, not to speak of other musicians work. 'Transcendence' is the best album of Crimson Glory and I am really sorry the band was not able to become successful.
Crimson Glory - power metal?!? What a joke!

Transcendence is probably the best progressive metal album of all time. It is sad that nowadays this unique band is totally forgotten.

Transcendence offers something really special and easily can be classified as universal metal. The starts with Lady Of Winter one of the shortest songs on the record. It shows what Glory is all about - nice riffing, beautiful melodies and of course Midnight's unique voice. Then comes Red Sharks - the fastest song on the album and maybe one of the best speed metal tracks ever written. The highlights on the album are easily Painted Skies, In Dark Places and Burning Bridges. No words can describe how great these pieces of music are. Great riffing, beautiful melodies and of course Midnight's immortal voice. The album ends with the minor title track which is a bit strange, but fits great to the others. So if you call yourself progressive fans this album is absolutely essential!
Transcedence - An album of memorable anthems!

I love John McDonald's voice. Powerful and expressive. I love the blood rush I get with the intro to the track "Masque of the red death". Great guitar riffs. I love singing to "Painted Skies", "Lonely", "Lady of Winter", "Burning Bridges" and "In Dark Places". I love the outro to the title track. I love this album.

There is an aura of mystique and fantasy in the music as well as the lyrics of this album. Very enchanting.

For those who love SYMPHONY X, FATES WARNING and IRON MAIDEN this album is essential.

4.5 stars


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