-by Devdutt Nawalkar
CRYSTAL LOGIC IS THE GREATEST PURE HEAVY METAL ALBUM EVER PUT TO TAPE.
Don’t gawk at me, asshole, because it’s the ill-begotten bastard’s honest truth. There is absolutely no record that tickles me in all the right spots when I’m pissed three sheets to the wind like this thing. Mark Shelton is a fucking heavy metal GOD of the most elevated degree imaginable, and screw your ears if you think otherwise. In a way, this album is the ultimate proof of the implausibility of God’s existence. Because if he did exist, Crystal Logic would be ranked alongside the Master of Realitys, the Stained Classes, the Piece of Minds, the Master of Puppets, the fucking Reign in Bloods, etc of metaldom. But it doesn’t, and that’s how fate sucks you down the shithole called life.
What can one say about these songs? Mark Shelton innovated the whole fucking epic, power metal genre. Actually, calling it power metal is doing him a big fucking disservice because of the stigma that has come to be attached to most modern power metal. There is something utterly timeless about these songs. It doesn’t matter if you discovered Crystal Logic yesterday. There is a sort of musty, mildewy quality that will transport you back to a time when writing songs was worth a whit, when people knew how to walk the line between melody and attitude, and, most importantly, when there was a sense of adventure in exploring what lurked next to the obscure corners of a heady sound. “But, hey! There’s plenty bands who did that back in the day!”. Right, fucker. they did. That doesn’t excuse you from not caring about fucking Crystal Logic, does it?
Crystal Logic had a thin, tweedy guitar tone, cardboard drums, and Mark Shelton sang, with a nasal twang, about lost cities of the dead and old Norse legends. Not sound appealing? GO. FUCK. YOURSELF.
The music business is a bitch of monumental proportions. They play whore to accessibility and yet they fail to take notice of a ridiculously catchy yet completely balls-to-the-wall classic like this. Look at the opening 1-2-3 on here for chrissakes! Has there ever been a greater, more singable opener than ‘Necropolis’?
Through the Jungle by the River Styx
I’ve journeyed far and long this day
Lurking Shadows by the parapets
They’ll never make me turn away!
Holy shit I see the wraiths! They glide along in serpentine form with palms beggared forth for my soul! Away, ghouls! Away to the festering depths of putrefying filth from whence you sprang!
A-C-B-A-F… blah blah. SIMPLE and yet so elegantly METAL as all hell! (I’m trying to sound cool because that’s the first Manilla Road song I ever learnt) Mark Shelton proved just what he could do with a simple minor scale right here; the solo here is one of the most perfectly placed and concise breaks in all metal. Lots of trilled notes and an ingeniously individualistic style of playing the guitar, rooted in the basics yet reaching for the ether. He’s got to be a wet dream for an underground jam room; I’ve always had the feeling that he can take his playing to wherever the heck he wants over the course of extended wankathon.
I’m just going to throw out thoughts as they coalesce because this is precisely how a drunk sounds two quarts down the stretch. Hey, you learn something new everyday! Going back to the obvious infectiousness of these songs, the 80s was obviously a time for the radiosluts. You know, the Ratts and the Crues and the like. Shelton even chose to toss a freebie like ‘Feeling Free Again’ to lure in the ADD-addled junta. Too bad he succeeded in making the song so kickass. Seriously, if the whole pop-metal fad sounded half as good as this thing, I’d as gladly don permed hair as munch down on a nun’s slit. Admittedly, it’s weird to hear Shelton sing “Hey baby” in his Uncle Scrooge-on-roids-voice. I think that’s what drove the chicks away towards ‘Cherry Pie’.
But then ‘The Riddle Master’ comes along to plunge you into the morose depths of misery. And what joyous Sabbath-influenced despair it is! Road fans, heed my cry ” aaaaaaargh Nooo Noo Noo Noooo!” Motherfuck, bang, thrash, destroy! God, I’m an ageing uncle and I do this.. FUCK YOU! Sweet immaturity, don’t deign desert me! Let your Shaolin Cymbals rain down thunder of frivolous rage upon my balding head oh yes!
The Veils of Negative Existence! Oh shit, I’ve come! In gasping, throbbing spurts, I squirt the fluid of life! Do you smell the lead? God, “I sail the seas of negativity to banish evil from this place!……I will never put my sword down! I will never run away! In the Veils of Negative Existence, I am the Master Here to Stay!”. Oh Christ, if you know metal like I do, you will feel the chills break on your skin, you will feel weak in the knee, and you will feel something twist and break inside.
I laid myself down into bed
To sleep away the night
A vision from inside my head
A sun with no sunlight
Oh, mommy! Tears, fucking tears well up inside these eyes. Ducts befouled, keep you shit to yourselves! In time, I’ve come to appreciate ‘Dreams of Eschaton’ as THE alpha-male of all heavy metal songs. The softly mumbled intro over humble acoustic strains, the aggressive, neck-snapping theme that leads into the EPIC “Before the Gods of Hell sentence you to die:…yeah? you know it, don’t you? “When Ragnarok Comes Down, We’ll All Run Out of Time”!
6:34, and the solo starts. Go to bed, honey, ‘cuz you could never dream of coming up with anything as simple yet as breathtakingly legendary and thriving with emotion as this. People look four corners when I mention Mark Shelton – all I need do is point them to this bit. How does someone come up with something so leviathanic, if that’s even a word, with something so basic? I wish I knew, I really do. It’s total alchemy to my ears.
I’m a pretty hard guy, but Crystal Logic makes me cry. I think it’s hard for most folks to comprehend the way I feel about heavy metal, especially at times of heightened sensory cognition like these. I’d only like to paraphrase the signature of a certain Nolan Lewis of Kryptos fame – “If it’s not within you, thou wilt never understand.” Get Crystal Logic – it’s mandatory.