Crystal Viper - Crimen ExceptaMarta Gabriel is a true metal mistress. Mock-goth corseting and affected operatics are not for her; she walks proudly in the footsteps of Doro and is about skulls, screams and skin tight black leather. She is just one reason to worship Crystal Viper.

Alongside a host of compilation and tribute appearances, the prolific Poles have released four full-lengths since debuting back in 2007. “Crimen Excepta” is the latest of those four albums and is set to see the band build on their glowing underground reputation.

Crystal Viper’s music is rooted firmly in old-school metal and when you learn they’ve covered the likes of Virgin Steele, Saxon and Demon throughout their career, it’s easy to get a grip on exactly where the four-piece is coming from.

Beyond the ubiquitous Maiden and Priest-styled attack, much of the Viper’s full-throttled assault can be linked to Hell’s outstanding “Human Remains” album and traced to the source of Mercyful Fate, although the band perhaps don’t have quite the experimental edge or progressive leanings of either act.

It’s the simplistic, unapologetic approach of tracks like the steamrolling “It’s Your Omen” and “The Spell Of Death” that give the band its edge, allowing Gabriel to soar with the sort of King Diamond-like screams we all unleash in the shower from time to time, although hers are far better than yours.

Crucially, it’s not all a heads down race to the end. Excellent closer “Ghosts Of Sherwood” shows a more considered – though no less metallic – side to Crystal Viper, while the seven minute title track shows a band capable of turning its hand to an ambitious epic when needed.

A hugely successful heavy metal release – simply enjoy on that basis and bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

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