sábado, 22 de setembro de 2012

CRYS (UK, Wales) - Tymor Yr Heliwr (Sain, LP, 1982)

RATING: ****

After releasing "Rhyfelwr" in 1981, Welsh-language Crys became minor celebrities in their native country. Their debut LP may not have been the most impressive of releases, but it surely had a great impact on Welsh-singing market. Crys even received a Best Album of the Year award in Sgrech, a music industry event for Welsh-language artists. It was not a huge scene, for sure, but Crys was the name on everyone's lips, and the expectations for a follow-up release were understandably high. And they delivered the goods in great fashion, no doubt about that.

"Tymor Yr Heliwr" (translates as "Hunting Season", if I'm not mistaken) is Crys' best album, and (in my book, at least) the finest LP ever to be issued by a Welsh-language hard rocking band. Maybe it would be different if Y Diawled had issued a full lenght album, but it never came to be, unfortunately. Actually, I can't really remember any other Heavy Metal band singing in Welsh in the 80s and getting as far as to record an album... But oh well, even with this near absolute lack of competition, Crys managed to record a very good album with plenty of good songs on display, so let's not be too sardonic on them.

The evolution from "Rhyfelwr" is unmistakeable. If Crys' debut was a mostly-average record with some nice songs in it, "Tymor Yr Heliwr" is the exact opposite: most of the numbers are actually pretty good. The band plays better, the vocals are more effective, the production is very adequate and the whole effort transpires a more mature and professional approach. Compared to its predecessor, this album sounds more upbeat and full of confidence.

The A side is nearly faultless; apart from "Yfed Y Nos" (which is a good-enough song, but predictable and not really impressive), all the other cuts are actually very enjoyable. It opens with a energetic rocker called "Pendoncwyr", a very popular song that became something of a denomination for the die-hard fans of the band (and don't be so cynical, there were a few back in the day, believe me). "Barod Am Roc" was also a minor hit, even receiving pride of place on a Sain compilation, which was named after the song. It's one of my personal favorites: simple-but-catchy chorus, nice guitar leads, all pretty basic but delivered with great enthusiasm. Good stuff to put a smile on your face, believe me. There's also "Rociwch Ymlaen", the "we-are-a-Welsh-singing-band-and-very-proud-of-it" song that went far enough to receive a videoclip (and you can watch it at the end of this review). But the best song, in my opinion, would be "Cwrdd a Gofid", a heavier, more serious number with an extremely competent guitar work throughout. Good, good stuff, lads.

The flipside is notably different. Actually, the predictable and slightly monotone "Merched Gwyllt a Gwin" is at odds with the other songs on the B side, where Crys appears in a more thoughtful, even a bit adventurous frame of mind. "Mae Fy Nghalon Yn Rhydd" is a melancholic ballad that start not a million miles away from Bleak House's "Rainbow Warrior", with subtle piano interventions and interesting guitar interludes, and later evolves into a heavy, intense ending. Impressive. There's also "Y Fedwen" (a brief, acoustic interlude) and the well-crafted "Gwlith Y Bore", which starts with an atmospheric, half-spoken intro and delves into a heavy rocker with nice guitar leads and a undeniable - and welcome - 70s feeling throughout. A fitting closing to a very accomplished album, more than worthy of attention from dedicated NWOBHM enthusiasts.

It comes as no surprise to know that "Tymor Yr Heliwr" was also awarded as album of the year in the Sgrech event, and Crys even appeared at Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show on BBC Radio One, an honor no other Welsh language rock band ever achieved. On this ocasion, Crys performed two songs in Welsh ("Pendoncwyr" and "Merched Gwyllt a Gwin"), and english versions to two of their songs: "Rociwch Ymlaen" (metamorphosed into "Rockin' Along") and "It's About Time" (supposedly an earlier version of "Amser Yn Nawr", that later appeared on "Roc Cafe" album, although I'm not entirely sure of it). Maybe they thought that this appearance was the chance to reach a broader audience, and hence chose to sing a few numbers in english - but it seems to have been an ill-fated move, as the band didn't made any impact outside Wales and spent over a decade in near-complete oblivion. It's easy to say it now that history took its course, but the fact is that an english-singing Crys would have to face huge competition, something that they were not ready (or maybe not even willing) to endure. When guitarist Alun Morgan (now deceased, unfortunately) decided to move to Canada, Crys went on a hiatus - and I'm sure it took a lot more than originally expected to get out of it.

Liam Forde (V/RG), Alun Morgan (LG), Scott Forde (B), Nicky Samuel (D).

01. Pendoncwyr 3:22
02. Yfed Y Nos (Drinking in the Night) 2:48
03. Barod Am Roc (Ready to Rock) 3:31
04. Cwrdd A Gofid (Welcome the Distress) 4:13
05. Rociwch Ymlaen (Rocking Along) 4:28
06. Mae Fy Nghalon Yn Rhydd (My Heart is Free) 6:03
07. Y Fedwen (The Birch) 1:43
08. Merched Gwyllt a Gwin (Wild Women and Wine) 4:19
09. Gwlith Y Bore (Morning Dew) 5:56

CRYS - Rociwch Ymlaen (video): http://youtu.be/fPxh6pLuUoA (embed disabled by user request)

CRYS - Pendoncwyr (live BBC Radio One, 1983)

Have you been involved with any of the bands mentioned here? Have any extra info and/or corrections? Please e-mail me at drequon@gmail.com and let me know!

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