Almost a Demo
The first track on Cryptic Shade’s three-song demo opens with a burst of dramatic metal, evil chords droning with heavy drum beats, and wailing guitar licks in the background. Then it tones down to an almost acoustic sounding guitar with some evil metal chord chugs in the background. Then the vocals come in and turn your idea of what this band is around. Here is a female voice almost sweet, amazingly melodic, that stands out over the music—still discordant, but more bluesy than metal.
The bridge of the track is what impresses most, when vocalist Tina Woods (previously of Necro Dolly and the Jesus Death Machine) switches effortlessly from her bluesy vocals to an intense metal growl that seem more typical for the style of music being played. After this burst of purely evil vocal acrobatics Woods moves back into her bluesy beauty, and this time it seems to fit better as you get a sense of the music the band composes. Cryptic Shade are not trying to be your typical heavy metal band; they have an eclectic sound that brings together a wide variety of influences that, as listed on their MySpace page, range from John Denver to Dream Theater, Marty Friedman to Megadeth.
The music is decidedly heavy and driving, pretty much straight-up metal played very well and very, very tightly. The musical prowess is impressive. Yet without the unique vocal stylings of Tina Woods, they could easily blend into the countless other metal bands that are equally good at what they do. This world is not short of long-haired guys that have spent most of their lives emulating their heroes and now shred on guitar. Tina’s dark yet beautiful vocals make this band stand out, even for people who may not typically listen to this genre of music, and the band’s combined musical talent makes it an interesting listen to anyone who appreciates good music.
This is not to say it is toned down metal—not in the least. They are completely brutal, and I can imagine you would leave one of their live shows with bleeding ears. The combination of two guitars makes for a very, very heavy sound with the complex riffs of rhythm and lead, and absolutely awesome guitar solos.
I can see that straddling this strange place—super brutal heavy metal with complex female vocals—could alienate both serious metal listeners and those who shy away from the heaviness of the genre. But with their talent, dedication, and uniqueness, this could be their edge. Hailing from Portland, Oregon—a city mostly known for twee indie rock—the brutal and unique sounds of Cryptic Shade are worth a listen.