Crimson Glory performing in Pratteln, Switzerland, 2011
|Origin||Sarasota, Florida, United States|
Todd La Torre
Crimson Glory are an American progressive metal band that formed in 1979 under the name Pierced Arrow (later changed to 'Beowulf'). Their current line-up features long-time guitarists Jon Drenning and Ben Jackson, bassist Jeff Lords, and drummer Dana Burnell. The band formed in Sarasota, Florida. As a pioneer of the American progressive metal movement, Crimson Glory rose to international fame in the 1980s and was ranked as one of the early "flagship bands of progressive metal" along with Queensrche, Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Watchtower, who were responsible for creating and developing that genre. Crimson Glory has released four studio albums and one EP. They broke up in 1992, but reunited six years later.
Crimson Glory was formed in Sarasota, Florida in 1979 under the name Pierced Arrow (later changed to 'Beowulf'). Pierced Arrow line-up consisted of Tony Wise on vocals, Bernardo Hernandez and Ben Jackson on guitars, Glen Barnhardt on bass (later replaced by Jeff Lords), and Dana Burnell on drums. Hernandez and Lords were replaced by Chris Campbell and John Colemorgan respectively in late 1981 or early 1982. In 1983, the band changed bassist, guitarist and vocals. Lords rejoined, Chris Campbell was replaced by Jon Drenning and Tony Wise by Mark Ormes. Later Mark Ormes left and while searching for a singer, the group found an old school mate of Jeff Lords, John Patrick McDonald (later known as Midnight), singing on the beach. They later changed their name to Crimson Glory after a rose hybrid.
They rehearsed for four years before recording their self-titled debut album, produced by Dan Johnson, on Par Records in 1986. This would later be re-issued after signing on with their new label, Roadrunner Records (then called Roadracer Records). Tight dual-lead harmonies and soaring vocals would feature prominently on this release. They later toured Europe in support of Celtic Frost and Anthrax. They played at the 1987 Hammersmith Odeon.
In an era of sound-and-lookalike metal bands, Crimson Glory's goal was to be immediately identifiable from the others, so they wore full-face metallic silver masks. They used them on-stage, as well as for all photo shoots and public appearances. Vocalist Midnight was the exception to this, as his mask left his mouth uncovered.
Their next release, Transcendence was released under Roadrunner Records in Europe and MCA Records in the United States. It contained the song Lonely, which was their first hit-single and music video.
Transcendence was a landmark in the genre, often cited as one of the greatest progressive metal albums of all time, best metal albums of the decade, and an influence by many bands like Cage, Triosphere and Rhapsody of Fire. The album garnered them much praise and attention, both at home and abroad. They were on the cover of Kerrang! magazine in May 1989.
They later toured North America, Europe and Japan with the bands Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Queensrche, U.D.O., Doro, and Anthrax. Their biggest show was in the Metal Hammer Festival in Dortmund, Germany in front of 20,000 fans in the spring 1990.
While on tour in support of their self-titled debut album, they discovered how hot the masks would be on stage. To keep the mystique, they cut them down into a partial "Phantom of the Opera" style for the Transcendence tour.
While touring behind Transcendence, they performed in front of 5,000 spectators at the Manatee Civic Center in their hometown of Bradenton, Florida on September 2, 1989. This concert was simulcast across America on Z Rock Radio. There were plans to release this show on DVD. In addition, the band performed "In Dark Places" at the 1989 Tampa Bay Music Awards and walked away with three awards that night - Most Outstanding Male Vocalist (Midnight), Most Outstanding Local Release (Transcendence) and Most Outstanding Metal Band (beating fellow Florida band Savatage for this one).
When the tour ended, drummer Dana Burnell and guitarist Ben Jackson decided to leave the group. Ben Jackson would later form the band Parish, which released an album titled Envision in 1995.
Burnell would be replaced by Ravi Jakhotia in 1991 , who brought a decidedly more "tribal" feel to the band. The material they would write for their next album was more hard rock oriented and based more upon drum grooves as opposed to guitar riffs, on which their first two albums were largely based. Also Midnight became more involved in the composition of the album. It signified a bold and definite shift away from the metal sound upon which the band had built their reputation. It was at this time the band continued on as a four-piece.
The revamped group was signed to Atlantic Records and released their third album, entitled Strange and Beautiful. Prior to the start of the tour, vocalist Midnight departed as well and retired from the music business for a decade. Guitarist Jon Drenning recruited vocalist David Van Landing as a replacement for Midnight on what would be a short-lived tour in the US. The biggest show of the tour was at the end of the year in Los Angeles, California at the Concrete Foundations Forum along with Ozzy Osbourne, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains.
Although the band broke up in 1992, Drenning, Lords, Landing and Jakhotia would get together a few years later as Erotic Liquid Culture. They released an album in 1996. The music continued the style the band established on Strange and Beautiful. Drenning, Lords and Jakhotia also had another project with singer Billy Martinez, called Crush which released an album under Paradigm Records in 1995.
In late 1996, Drenning and Lords wanted to reform Crimson Glory. They contacted Midnight but he was not interested nor he was not in the right physical condition to record an album up to the band's standards. So they contacted singer Wade Black (from the band Lucian Blaque) and Savatage drummer Steve Wacholz. Ben Jackson joined later, after his band Parish broke up. This incarnation of the group would release Astronomica in 1999 after a big delay because the master tapes were stolen and they had to record the album again. Astronomica sold more than 30,000 copies in Europe in their first few weeks of the release.
Following the release there was a few warm-up shows in Florida and toured the Netherlands, Germany, France with Vanden Plas, Belgium and Greece with Kamelot and Evergrey. Troubles began during the tour and after returning to the US the band once again went their separate ways.
In March 2001, Wade Black and Ben Jackson launched a project called Sector 9 with drummer Jesse "Martillio" Rojas and bassist Chris Baylor. In July 2001, Ben Jackson left the band to concentrate on his solo career. Jesse Martillo and Chris Baylor also left. Baylor joined Ben Jackson Group and they released an album in 2001. Wade Black would go on to front Seven Witches in 2000, Leash Law in 2004 and Leatherwolf in 2006.
Meanwhile, Midnight was slated to work with guitarist Luca Turilli from Rhapsody. He later started to work on a demo tape called Songs from the Attic. He asked his fans via Blabbermouth if they will be willing to buy mp3 instead of a CD. The demo was delayed two times. Once because of post-9/11 power outage. The title was later changed to M and was finally released as an EP on November 30. While working on the EP Midnight had joined forces with former Atheist guitarist Rand Burkey. They started composing material for an album, under the projected title of Cookooflower. A demo from Cookooflower was going to be included in the EP. He would later drop Cookooflower project and the inclusion of the two songs with Burkey after failing to agree in the contract. Burkey uploaded one song to MP3.com for promotional purposes.
On March 2002, Ben Jackson performed two shows at Keegan's Clubhouse Lounge in Sarasota where he played all the songs from his first solo album Here I Come. Burnell, Lords and Black assisted to the show, while Midnight refused to go. By the same time Midnight's website was taken down by webmaster and partner because of Midnight's lack of involvement in his musical career. A month later his website was re-established under a new domain.
In June, Wade Black left Seven Witches due to "personal and business-related matters within the band". He started a new band with ex-Nocturnus members Mike Davis and Emo Mowery called Tiwanaku. He also resurrected his old band Lucian Blaque. Wade appeared as a guest musician on Rick Renstrom solo album.
On July 28, 2003, Ben Jackson posted on his website that he wanted Crimson Glory to reunite with the original line-up, that the band has been waiting for a sign from Midnight. Later, Midnight would sing guest vocals on Ben Jackson's second solo album All Over You.
Jackson and Midnight performed an acoustic set on July 2004. Both were later invited to the ProgPower V Festival to a meet and greet and not to perform. Ben would later be invited to perform a song with Kamelot. In December, Midnight signed with Black Lotus Records to release his first solo album, Sakada.
In March 2005, the band announced a reunion with the original line-up. The songwriting process of their fifth album entitled Metatron, Lucifer and the Divine Chaos (later changed to Divine Chaos) begun. Greek heavy metal label Black Lotus Records was going to release DVD of the 1989 concert at the Manatee Civic Center in Bradenton, with other live performances and behind-the-scenes footage from Transcendence tour, as well as a re-release of the two first albums in a box-set entitled Valley of Shadows - Kingdoms of Light. Midnight speculated that he would possibly sing on the album but that he would not tour with the band because he was going to tour with his solo-band.
On April 2006, the band confirmed that Midnight would sing on the new album, re-record the vocals for Astronomica and tour with them. On May 1, the band confirmed for the Rockwave Festival in Greece. A few days later it was announced that Black Lotus Records closed its doors and all bands were released of their contracts.
After the show in Greece in July, there were plans to tour Europe. In September, Drenning, Burnell, Lords and Jesse Rojas performed as guest musicians with Ben Jackson Group at Kamelot concert.
On January 22, 2007, Midnight was arrested, charged with driving under the influence with blood-alcohol level .20 or higher. Four days later, the band parted ways with Midnight, citing it would be difficult to work with him "as his current state of mind and his present physical condition would impede plans we have in place for future appearances, releases and recordings". Wade Black, who had reciently quit Leatherwolf, joined the band again. They played two shows in Florida with Vicious Rumors and in the Bay Area Rock Fest. After that they quietly went on indefinite hiatus.
In 2008, Ben Jackson announced that he was putting the finishing touches on his third solo album, Gold and Dragons. This album would be released five years later in 2013 with Jackson having renamed his solo band Avenging Benji.
On July 8, 2009, in hospital with family, friends and bandmates by his side, former singer Midnight died at 3:30am. Although the press initially stated total kidney and liver failure, the real cause of death was a stomach aneurysm. In memory of their fallen friend and bandmate, Midnight, the band played a tribute show, headlining 2009's ProgPower in Atlanta, Georgia. The show featured many special guest vocalists, including Lance King from Pyramaze, Nils K. Rue from Pagan's Mind, Chris Salinas from Zero Hour, Ronny Monroe from Metal Church, Andy Franck from Brainstorm, Sean Peck from Cage, Danilo Herbert from Mindflow, Joakim Brode;n from Sabaton, Michael Eriksen from Circus Maximus, Rob Rock, Mark Boals from Royal Hunt, Clay Barton from Suspyre, Kelly Sundown from Beyond Twilight and former Crimson Glory member David Van Landing. A few weeks prior to the show, Jon Oliva's Pain guitarist, Matt LaPorte, introduced Todd La Torre to the band and he was added as a guest vocalist at ProgPower X.
In May 2010, the band formally announced Todd La Torre as their new singer. La Torre made his first public appearance as a full-time member of Crimson Glory at the Pathfinder Metal Fest in Marietta, Georgia on October 30, 2010. A drummer for 24 years in various hard rock and heavy metal bands in the Tampa Bay area, he was never seeking out being the frontman of a band, "it just happened". In May 2012, La Torre joined four members of Queensrche as singer for two shows under the moniker Rising West. La Torre has since joined Queensrche as a full-time member.
In 2011, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their first album, the band toured Europe, playing in Netherlands, at the Keep It True XIV and Bang Your Head!!! festivals in Germany, Switzerland, Karmygeddon festival in Norway and Belgium.
In 2012, Jeff Lords formed the band Dark Matter with vocalist Paul Beach, guitarist Terry Schambers, and drummer Jesse Rojas. So far, this band has released one full-length album Terminal Endeavor (2012) and one EP Enchipher (2016); the latter features Todd La Torre singing guest vocals on four tracks.
The band were said to be working on a new album and had released a raw demo entitled "Garden Of Shadows". However, in 2013, it was announced that vocalist Todd La Torre parted ways with Crimson Glory. He revealed that the band had been suffering a long period of inactivity, and explained: "We had wonderful momentum and we were working within an important window of time within which the new record should have been recorded and released to have the most impact given the bands resurgence. Unfortunately, the record never materialized despite my best efforts, [and] I haven't been contacted to write with Crimson Glory for over six months."
Later in the year, Crimson Glory posted the following on its Facebook page: "Time to make someone else's dreams come true...Who's the next Crimson Glory singer....is it you?", suggesting that the band would be holding auditions for a new vocalist. However, further news on this matter has yet to surface.
In November 2016, the official Facebook page of the band shared a video by Yannis Papadopoulos. In the video, Yannis does a vocal cover of "Masque of the Red Death". The band commented "Love his voice. What say you?", indicating that they are considering him as their new vocalist.
"Lady of Winter" (Transcendence), demonstrating Crimson Glory's fast tempo, and aggressive musicianship featured in early releases
The third album marked a stylistic departure from the progressive metal.
"War of the Worlds" (Astronomica), featuring Wade Black on vocals
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