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Sweet Crystal - 2001 Still Standing..



SWEET CRYSTAL - STILL STANDING.. (2001, NIGHTCRIER MUSIC)
Marq Andrew Speck - vocals, keyboards, bass, drum programming
Bill Blatter - guitars
Steve Wieser - drums


Background
I first picked this trio up on the old MP3.COM site, and was quite taken aback at the extremely high quality of their music, both in terms of the arrangements and the production. You could tell this effort was not put together in the back bedroom or in the downstairs basement on a dodgy 4-track Tascam! We get the full monty on this album of tracks by this Detroit based outfit. Not only do they crank out good music, but it seems they run a production and recording facility. So I suppose it's a case of practice what you preach. Talking of preach, these guys are Christian, so the music inevitably compares to others of the genre, but added in there is a commercial but progressive element. On the rockier tracks, Idle Cure and Kerry Livgren's A.D easily comes to mind, while on the quieter ones, Illustrator permeates out of the history books like a long lost cloud from the eighties.

The Songs
The songs I'd originally heard on MP3.COM sound heaps better on CD, and that says something as I thought they were great. The quality really comes to life. Their opening number 'Do You Still Believe In Love' is a mid-paced effort written by Chris Eaton (featured elsewhere on this site). Their excellent 'Soliders Of The Crown' is featured here again, like a hi-tech cross between Illustrator and Fighter. 'When I Think Of You' opens slowly before breaking out onto the AOR highway in top gear, complete with pulsing bass lines and swinging guitars. We get some pomp bombast through the middle of 'This Way Forever', which has a very big and spacious production. 'Messiah Song' is an interesting track, initially a complex intro before settling into a melodic rock track that Kerry Livgren would feel at home with. 'No Two Masters' also features the female vocal talent of D.J Stevenson, who sounds like Debbie Davis (Witness)! No kidding!! 'In Your Name' continues the melodic presence, building to some big chorus climaxes. 'On Stand Up And Shout' you can hear Sweet Crystal in a live context, and believe me they sound rather awesome. Also heard are some big sound effects coming through. While their coup de grace is the fantastic hi-tech Tangerine Dream flavoured instrumental 'Ominicity'. This is one for the air keyboardists among you. Superb stuff.

In Summary
For those with a liking for Christian melodic rock, without going through the normal CCM channels, then go seek Sweet Crystal like I did. For fans of keyboard based arrangements with quality production then join the queue.

URL: www.sweetcrystal.com

Track Listing:
01 Do You Believe In Love
02 Soldiers Of The Crown
03 When I Think Of You
04 This Way Forever
05 Messiah Song
06 In God We Trust
07 No Two Masters
08 In Your Name
09 Stand Up And Shout (Live)
10 Looking Back
11 Omnicity

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Sweet Crystal - 2001 Still Standing..


Sweet Crystal - 2003 Power And The Glory


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