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Album Review

CRYSKNIFE
Mythos

Two brothers: One a classically trained keyboardist relying heavily on grand piano--- a courvoisier, if you will. The other, a guitarist, two-fisted and more Iron City than anything. Put them together and you have Crysknife, a musical force born to purpose. They rock, they roll--- sometimes a steel mill Granati Brothers wielding major chord progression Pop Rock with a hard edge (Unraveling), sometimes Prog Rock gone metal (with very early Uriah Heep for good measure, as in Running Nowhere), and at others folding classical influence and crunching rock into a keyboard-driven, guitar-infested stew of choogling power (Fill the Need). They even toss in the punkish metal Concede, a percussive assault on the auditory senses, to throw us all off (it didn't work).

I would say they were an odd lot, those Campitelli boys, but for the music they squeeze from their instruments. They are serious, almost dour in the photos chosen for the album artwork. Maybe it is part of the psych, the building up of image that they think is needed for the music. It fits.

There is a knife's edge to Thomas' guitar, which he prefers to keep on the distortive edge. He drives when drive is needed, sometimes razor sharp staccato and at others drawn out distortion a la grunge. Turn it up and you are beaten to submission, especially on Cold Embrace with its der der der der (chunka-chunk), der der der der (chunka-chunk chunka-chunk) guitar boxing your ears, the crunch of the rhythm softened only slightly by piano from another realm. Steve's keyboards. Listen closely and you wonder how they can make it work, Thomas's heavy-handed rhythms and Steve's classical and sometimes theatrical piano/organ/synthesizer. They attack most of the songs from opposite directions and somehow meet in the middle, and on a few you wonder how they got there.

They have the perfect opener/closer in Fill the Need. Simple piano intro, add acoustic guitar, drums and boom! Here comes the grungy half-metal guitar, but only for a short riff. Verse, keyboard. Chorus, guitar, and a riff which goes on and on at the end, just right for getting a crowd on their feet or sending them home with a rush. It is wall of sound energy, sounding like it gets louder and louder with each stanza but doesn't. This is the type of song to convince the wary and confirm the sold. Caffeine to the system, that is what it is. Pure, unadulterated caffeine.

Session drummer Phil Robertson deserves a word here. His drumming is the kind you never notice until it isn't there--- solid yet graceful and with touches needed to make the songs whole. Listen to the driving percussion on Cold Embrace and Fill the Need, especially the sparing use of cymbal. The guy nails it and the album is much better for his expertise. Phil, if I ever record an album, I'm calling you first.

Funny thing. Back around '80 or so when the Granati Brothers released their A&M album, G-Force, I would have sworn that they were introduced at the Rising Star Concert they played at Seattle's Paramount Theater as being Cleveland born and bred. I looked them up before writing this and it turns out they live in Pittsburgh. Just down the road from Crysknife. I tell you, there are similarities, slight though they may be. I liked G-Force and was enthralled by the Granati's performance that night. I like Mythos, too. Maybe I will get the chance to one day see them in concert. I hope so. If you get a chance, don't pass it up. Send me an email and let me know how they were. I just bet they can blow your socks off.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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