Crystal Viper - Metal Nation (Karthago Records)

Poland's Crystal Viper pull out the stops and prove that they are a Metal Nation with their second album.

I'm a strong believer that there are just not enough female-fronted metal bands, and Crystal Viper is a new one on my radar. Hailing from Poland, this band has a pure power metal sound. Throughout Metal Nation, Marta Gabriel proves that she has a fantastic voice that holds its own against the pure metal sounds from the rest of the band.

Opening song Breaking The Curse has something of a medieval banquet feel to it, and is purely instrumental. It leads nicely into Metal Nation, the title trackwhich has the same tune as Breaking The Curse, but is much more metal - and it is here that we are first introduced to Marta Gabriel's powerful mid-range voice, added to with outstanding screams. It shouldn't go amiss to mention the powerful bass lines and drumming that will pound your skull. The guitar work is phenomenal and drowns your soul from the beginning to the end of the album.

The mental assault continues with Bringer Of The Light an up-beat tune that will still rip a hole in your mind. Like most songs on the album, the lyrics are catching and the music harsh enough to have you rocking out very quickly. Other stand out songs are Zombie Lust (Flesh Eaters) and Gladiator, Die By The Blade: both awesome and hard-hitting songs.

Her Crimson Tears is about as close as Crystal Viper gets to a ballad. It actually starts as a ballad, with Marta Gabriel singing without the metal kick to her voice - but it does metal-up into the song, and although still technically a ballad it's a powerful song with guitar riffs and screams galore!

I'm even mildly impressed with their cover of Agents Of Steel (Agent Steel) and I normally HATE covers!

Overall I'm feeling some metal love for this band. Now if we could just get a few more bands like this with good strong women kicking the vocal ass...

Crystal Viper's Metal Nation is out now on Karthago Records.