One of the best things to come out of the digital age of music is the evolution of the collaborative progressive rock project, musicians from all corners of the world being able to gather their talents together on a single work. A prime example of this is Suncrown. Now, pay attention folks, this gets a bit tricky…. A songwriter and keyboardist from Ukraine, Oleg Biblyi and a vocalist from the U.S.A., Darren Crisp, get an idea to form a symphonic metal band. They are joined by guitarist Gustavo Bonfa and bassist Ederson Prado of Brazil. Another Brazilian then adds her talents on vocals, Juliana Furlani, and they bring in from the Netherlands a drummer, Tim Zuidberg. You guys keeping up? because we aren’t done yet. They then go to back to the U.S.A. to get another guitarist, Kevin Ellerby, and from Turkey they score flute player Uğur Kerem Cemiloğlu. Quite a trail to follow, if I do say so myself, but in the end, we the music lovers were given Suncrown’s debut album Follow Your Dream. Now let’s see what the end product of all this worldly talent is like, shall we?
Stylistically, Suncrown is a straight up symphonic/epic metal band. The opening track, Believe, leaves no doubt about this. Subtle piano and some wispy flute from Cemiloglu open the track briefly before being joined by the symphonic power chords we are all familiar with. Then the first pleasant surprise of the album jumps in, the vocals of Crisp. With just enough rasp and power, he definitely has the voice to lead the music, which is clean and solid. Thematically, it is an uplifting opener, as is every track on the album, but more about that later. The other highlight to Believe is a solid guitar solo that highlights the back end of the track. The track winds down the way it opened, winding down with the piano and flute. Track two, Make This Life Worth Living, has some more to offer, mainly because it debuts what for me was the real highlight of the album, the dual vocals of Crisp and Furlani. Both singers fit the genre perfectly, and the two play off each other and harmonize with each other so well. For the first three minutes of the track, they show off this aspect, and then flow into an up paced guitar driven instrumental. The two vocalists join in, and fit in right with the music. The guitars are highlighted here again, and are very clean and solid on top of a firm background.
This formula is carried pretty much throughout the album. Some notable moments are an instrumental piece, War Spirit, which brought visions of a darkened field in Mordor out from the geeky recesses of my mind… oh poor Frodo, what you had to go through….but I digress. This did have some phenomenal imagery to it, a very effective piece. Another is the second to last track, Lone Ship, mostly for the wonderful instrumental segment and some truly inspired guitar interplay. The album closes out with what for me was the biggest surprise of all, a very solid cover of Black Sabbath’s Children of the Sea, with none other than Sabbath and Dio drummer Vinny Appice taking over the drum duties. I had yet to check the track listing when I had my first spin of this album, and the old wayback machine kicked in real quick on those opening notes. I will admit, Suncrown did this old classic song some justice with their cover, and once again, the vocals of Crisp are more than admirable in paying due homage to the really, really, REALLY big standards set by the metal legend himself. This cover also brings me to what I felt was the big downside to this album.
The talent is there, of that there is no doubt. From the vocals to the guitars, the solid rhythm section, the solid addition of the keys and flute, there is a tremendous amount of potential here. In Children of the Sea, and to a lesser extent in other tracks, we see that they are capable of stepping outside the comfort zone set by song after song of formulated, uplifting and inspirational symphonic metal. I’m all for a good happy song now, don’t get me wrong, but after listening to six or seven in a row, I’m ready to punch a kitten. A band needs to break me down before building me up. Put me in a tree, throw a bunch of rocks at me, sleep with my girl, then you lift my spirits out of the gutter. It digs so much deeper and is much more effective that way. With the potential here, and especially with the talent on vocals, I personally would love to see Suncrown tackle a character driven concept album. All the elements are present to make it something special, the band just needs to step out of their box and take some serious steps into the unknown.
I look forward to seeing what Suncrown will come up with next, I really do. There is a great many toys that they can play with here, I just hope they stop being so afraid to break them. I do want my music to be uplifting, but I also want it to remind me of my darker sides, of the fear, the sorrow, the anger. I want it to be all the scary and wondrous things that make being a complete human such a wonder.