"Resurrection", Rob Halford set out his sight for the future instead in his second solo project record, which got the name "Crucible". The album is much more modern and darker in its approach, containing very few elements from Halford's career. Even if it is a different sounding album, "Crucible" is still a smooth evolution, still keeping a heavy core of crunchy riffs and soaring vocals, mixed with some slower creations as well. So yeah, the fans were definitely in for a different, but still familiar journey.
Now, the album was released back in 2002, but was re-released in a remixed and remastered version in 2010 (the same was done to "Resurrection"), and for once, the remaster is better. The main difference here is the track list, that does not only include the four bonus tracks from the limited and Japanese version, but they have also scrambled the order quite a bit. The title track for example starts off the album in the original version, but is on the second half in the remaster. I find the flow to be better on the remaster, the album cover is much cooler, and three of the four bonus tracks are quite enjoyable, so job well done there. Should still be mentioned that my ultimate opinion is about the original version, in case you were wondering.
"Crucible" is certainly more experimental than its two year older brother, Halford trying different ways to utilize his voice and song writing ability. The same goes for the production, which is grittier and rougher than what it was on the predecessor, and yeah, it does not suit the band well at all. It is something about this production that drags this album way down, to the point where it just hurts to listen to. We all know the man's potential, and it goes without saying that it is wasted here, unfortunately.
But if we look past the dreadful sound picture, there are some great hidden gems in here that not only are fantastic metal anthems, but might even be considered as some of the best songs written by the Metal God. "Wrath of God" has the perfect title, it is 3 minutes of pure fury that only Kratos from the "God of War" games can match, while "Sun" uses some really interesting techniques, both on the guitars and the song structure, making it really intriguing even if it holds the same tempo for most of its run time. We also have "Handing Out Bullets", a song where the drums dominate with an infectious beat, something Halford only enhances with his mighty vocals. And for those who missed the old school force that "Resurrection" had, then the gladiator story of "One Will" and the furious "Betrayal" will most certainly satisfy your needs.
As for the more experimental tracks, they are mostly filler, but we can find some good one too, like the previously mentioned "Sun", "Heart of Darkness", and "She". But several songs on "Crucible" are just bland or uninteresting. Songs like "Weaving Sorrow", "Golgotha", the title track (and its weird oriental vibes), and the bonus track "Fugitive" are just incredibly pale, lacking personality and momentum. Now, I do not wanna point finger at anyone, but I wonder how much of an influence the other 4 guys of the band were, and how much they contributed in the writing process. Not blaming them, just saying that they might have led Halford into this path, which in itself is not bad, it just needed some more polished songs to go along.
It is obvious that Halford wanted to do so much with "Crucible", trying to spread out his wings as much as he could here, but the end product falls kind of flat. There is some great material in here that displays the band's true potential, squeezing out every bit of metal goodness that is possible, but the production and good amount of fillers kills the experience for me. Halford did a Icaros here, he flew too close to the sun, eventually giving himself quite a burn that hurts him badly. "Crucible" had potential, but never lived up to it.
Songs worthy of recognition: Wrath of God, One Will, Sun
Rating: 6,5/10 Crystals