CRYSTAL EYES was formed in 1992 by MIKAEL DAHL and NICLAS KARLSSON to keep the legacy of Heavy Metal set in the 80's by JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, BLACK SABBATH, ACCEPT etc. A strong underground reputation was built during the mid 90's with 4 official demo-tapes. In 1996 CRYSTAL EYES launched their official website and supported BLIND GUARDIAN the same year. The debut album WORLD OF BLACK AND SILVER (1998) and the follow up IN SILENCE THEY MARCH (2000) were released by CLM. The records received great reviews and CRYSTAL EYES could be seen supporting bands like YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and CANDLEMASS. The 3rd album VENGEANCE DESCENDING (2003) was recorded and mixed in CRYSTAL EYES newly built own studio CRYSTAL SOUNDS, and featured guest vocals by GERD SALEWSKI (ex CHROMING ROSE) and DANIEL HEIMAN (ex LOST HORIZON). The record was released by HEAVY FIDELITY and gave CRYSTAL EYES a spot at SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL in 2003. MIKAEL DAHL who'd been the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter since the beginning felt it was time to take a step back from the microphone. The 4th album CONFESSIONS OF THE MAKER (2005) featured DANIEL HEIMAN on vocals. That year CRYSTAL EYES was the opening act at SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL and this became the only show with DANIEL. By the end of the year a permanent singer was found in NICO ADAMSEN. Before the 5th album the band decided to take a step up in the production. DEAD CITY DREAMING (2006) was recorded at CRYSTAL SOUNDS and mixed by FREDRIK NORDSTRÖM at STUDIO FREDMAN. This co-operation was so successful that NORDSTRÖM directly was hired for the next record. The 6th album CHAINED (2008) was released by METAL HEAVEN. In 2009 NICO explained that he didn't have time to play live, and since MIKAEL was handling the vocals on rehearsals, demo-recordings and in the JUDAS PRIEST tribute band DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH it was clear that he was the right singer for CRYSTAL EYES. The 20th anniversary in 2012 was celebrated with special gigs including former members and songs from every record. With MIKAEL back on lead vocals the band recorded their 7th album KILLER, which was once again mixed at STUDIO FREDMAN and released by MASSACRE RECORDS in 2014. In early 2015 it was clear that something was wrong and the chemistry in the band didn't work anymore, so MIKAEL and CLAES WIKANDER who were the only members featured on all CRYSTAL EYES albums felt it was time for a break. MIKAEL and CLAES continued their path of Heavy Metal in DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH, which since 2014 included the fantastic drummer HENRIK BIRGERSSON. After 2 years of convincing drumming HENRIK was invited for an audition and got the job right away. For the second guitarist the band didn't have to look far. A young band called AMNESIA had recorded a demo at CRYSTAL SOUNDS a couple of years earlier and the talented JONATAN HALLBERG had made a real impression. JONATAN was the first and only choice, and after one rehearsal in 2017 the strongest line-up in CRYSTAL EYES history was complete. After an acclaimed performance at the TRVHEIM FESTIVAL in MUNICH in late 2018 the new line-up went back to the studio to record 10 songs for the upcoming 8th album. STARBOURNE TRAVELER was released on MASSACRE RECORDS on the 6th of December 2019 and has been praised by both fans and media, including the #1 spot in the JURY in SWEDEN ROCK MAGAZINE #12 2019.
THE BEGINNING » During the late '80s and early '90s vocalist, guitarist and song writer Mikael Dahl and guitarist and song writer Niclas Karlsson became a part of the local music scene in the town Borås in Sweden when playing in various local bands. Mostly in bands playing some kind of hard rock and/or Heavy Metal and/or covers, but none of them really found what they were looking for. When they discovered their mutual passion for Heavy Metal, and severe JUDAS PRIEST addiction, they decided to start a new band of their own. It was the spring of 1992, and CRYSTAL EYES was born. The name came up among many others during a brainstorm session, but CRYSTAL EYES was picked simply because they thought it "sounded good". Quite soon they were joined by bassist Christian Gunnarsson, but they couldn't find a drummer so Mikael had to program the drum machine Alesis HR-16 for that part.
THE FIRST OFFICIAL DEMO TAPE » In the spring of 1993 Alesis HR-16 was replaced by Fredrik Gröndahl, who after only a year was replaced by Martin Tilander, and Christian Gunnarsson was replaced by Mikael Blohm. The band had been recording demo tapes of Mikael's and Niklas' songs from the very beginning, but on the demo tapes from 1993 and on their mutual friend Andreas Götesson started to appear as an external lyricist. In 1994 the band decided it was time to release an official demo tape. The cover of the self titled demo tape was made by Andreas Götesson, but more importantly he created the logotype which has stayed with the band ever since.
A NEAR-END-EXPERIENCE » In the spring of 1995 it was clear that the chemistry in the band wasn't working anymore. Some of the members wanted to change the music in a more aggressive and "modern" '90s-like direction. For Mikael that was never an option, so he found himself being the only member left. Niclas Karlsson and Martin Tilander then moved on to form the band Fierce Conviction. They released one album under that name, and a second album as just CONVICTION, on the label CRAZY LIFE MUSIC. The same label CRYSTAL EYES released the first two albums on. CONVICTION was dissolved in December 2001, but interestingly a certain Daniel Heiman was CONVICTIONS singer during their last few months of existence. Daniel Heiman never recorded anything with CONVICTION, but they did a few gigs, and it was during this time the guys in LOST HORIZON got their ears on him. Niklas Karlsson has later also been a member of ZONATA, FRETERNIA and RISING FAITH.
A NEW BEGINNING » After a few months searching for new members Mikael completed the new line-up in the fall of 1995 with drummer Kujtim Gashi, guitarist Jukka Kaupaamaa and bassist Kim Koivo. Kim Koivo quit in May 1996, and since a bassist was needed immediately to record the second official demo tape Marco Nicolaidis temporarily helped out as a bassist for a few months. The second official demo tape THE SHADOWED PATH turned out to be a turning point for the band. The demo tape received some really good reviews, and it was more or less the first time CRYSTAL EYES got any attention from outside Sweden. One has to remember that during the mid '90s Heavy Metal was pretty much just laughed at outside the hard core of the genre, and it was certainly not easy for a small band to reach out before the internet started to become an alternative force to the mainstream media. But the demo tape's positive response gave a first hint of what to come, and it certainly helped when the band made their first live appearance of importance when warming up for BLIND GUARDIAN in October 1996. On December the 1st 1996 CRYSTAL EYES was definitely one of the first bands to get an official website up and running. Looking back one can probably not underestimate the importance of establishing a website so early on.
A SOLID LINE-UP » In January 1997 Mikael found a permanent bassist in Claes Wikander. Spurred on by the response from the last demo tape they immediately rehearsed a bunch of new songs, and recorded the third official demo tape THE FINAL SIGN in Mars. It received an even better response than the last one, and also started to sell quite well. The demo tapes actually sold out in just a few weeks, and the band had to make a second pressing of THE SHADOWED PATH and THE FINAL SIGN. The first demo tape didn't get a second pressing since the band thought it didn't meet up to the standards of the last two. In October Jukka Kaupaamaa was replaced by Jonathan Nyberg, and Mikael consider this being the point where he first felt the band got a truly solid line-up and everybody were heading in the same direction. In May 1998 the fourth official demo tape THE DRAGON'S LAIR was recorded. This time the band had invested in their own digital mini studio, and it was Mikael and Claes who were in charge of the production. This co-operation was quite successful, and awoke an interest which a few years later resulted in CRYSTAL EYES' own studio CRYSTAL SOUNDS. At this point it still wasn't very easy to reach out for a Heavy Metal band, but for the first time since the early '90s the general interest for Heavy Metal seamed to be heading in a positive direction. A direction which certainly helped when CRYSTAL EYES for the first time were offered some proper recording contracts directly after having sent THE DRAGON'S LAIR to several interested record companies.
WORLD OF BLACK AND SILVER » It was the German label CRAZY LIFE MUSIC who presented the best deal, and a contract was signed on the 1st of October 1998. Since CRYSTAL EYES already had about 40 songs to choose from they immediately went down to STUDIO MOHRMANN in Germany to record the debut. The recordings began on the 23d of November, and lasted for two weeks. While in the studio they got a visit from cover artwork artist Eric Philippe, who had from directions from CRAZY LIFE MUSIC and the lyrics to the title song WORLD OF BLACK AND SILVER made sketches for the album cover. A cool looking fantasy artwork, but the warrior was ordered there by CRAZY LIFE MUSIC. The band's intention was only to visualise the world described in the lyrics. The mixing and mastering were done after the band left the studio. Something the band thought would be handled by professionals, but when they got the finished product by January it was truly sad to hear the substandard sound production. The album was remixed, but not to the bands satisfaction. Unable to get the record label to remix it a second time, and inexperienced by this completely new situation, the band felt they had no other choice than to approve the release. Even though the sound turned out the way it did the band was, and is, very proud of the songs. WORLD OF BLACK AND SILVER was released on the 26th of April 1999. The album received great reviews, but soon CRAZY LIFE MUSIC delivered a second disappointment with extremely poor marketing and promotion, and none of the promised tour support.
IN SILENCE THEY MARCH » Since he had the time Mikael soon finished the material for the second album, and STUDIO MOHRMANN was once again booked for November 1999. But just a week before going down to Germany CRAZY LIFE MUSIC pushed back the date for the studio, and kept on doing so at several occasions until September 2000. During this period CRYSTAL EYES started working with the management and booking agency DMP SWEDEN. A company ran by Mikael's younger brother Tommy Dahl. The first results of this co-operation were a few smaller club gigs in Sweden, opening up for CANDLEMASS and YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and playing the fifth MOTALA METAL FESTIVAL. DMP SWEDEN also arranged with Swedish cover artwork artist Kristian Wåhlin to paint the cover for the up-coming album. A fantasy artwork inspired by Andreas Götesson's lyrics to the title track IN SILENCE THEY MARCH. Finally on the 25th of September CRYSTAL EYES once again could enter STUDIO MOHRMANN. After the band had ventilated their dissatisfactions surrounding the first release CRAZY LIFE MUSIC had promised a better support for the new album, but sadly history repeated itself with frightening accuracy. IN SILENCE THEY MARCH was released on the 11th of December 2000. Once again the only support of the album was when DMP SWEDEN arranged a Swedish club tour in January and February 2001, now together with LEFAY and EVERGREY.
A NEW DRUMMER » In May 2001 Kujtim Gashi felt he needed to spend more time with his ill daughter, and was unable to commit 100% to Crystal Eyes. It was a sad moment to loose a great drummer, but Kujtim still remains a great friend of the band. Auditions with several drummers were held during May and June until a perfect match was found in FRETERNIA'S drummer Stefan Svantesson. Stefan then played in both bands for a few months before quitting FRETERNIA. CRYSTAL EYES spent the rest of 2001 rehearsing and writing, and Stefan made his first live appearance in December at the earlier mentioned CONVICTION'S farewell party. 2002 kicked-off with another Swedish club tour with LOST HORIZON, ZONATA and IRON WARE.
CRYSTAL SOUNDS » In the spring of 2002 CRYSTAL EYES got the opportunity to take over an old studio next to their rehearsal room. The studio was in the '80s and '90s know as STUDIO FALMAN, but had only been used as a rehearsal room or been empty for almost ten years. Mikael and Claes had gradually been more and more interested in the technical side of the recording process since they bought the digital mini studio in 1998, and wise from the experience of the first two albums they were convinced that they could accomplish a much better result themselves. They restored and equipped the studio as much as their self financed budget allowed, though some equipment had to be hired when needed. They named the studio CRYSTAL SOUNDS, and began recording in August 2002.
HEAVY FIDELITY » During this time the band also decided to definitely end the relationship with CRAZY LIFE MUSIC. The communication had been completely one sided for over a year and a half so it was actually more of a decision to move on than to quit anything. When the band started the recordings they had a bunch of songs they wanted to record for the next CRYSTAL EYES album, but had no idea how, where and when that album would be released. Meanwhile their management and booking agency DMP SWEDEN had planned to start up a record label for over a year, and during the fall those plans and CRYSTAL EYES' situation fell perfectly into place. The new label was named HEAVY FIDELITY, and a record deal was signed on the 1st of December 2002.
VENGEANCE DESCENDING » Because it was the first time CRYSTAL EYES recorded and mixed everything themselves, and everyone were working fulltime at their day jobs during the whole process, and there was no time pressure, the album wasn't finished until March 2003. But the result clearly shows that time and lack of pressure can be equally important as loads of cash when it comes to sound production quality. Certainly a huge step up production wise compared to the previous two albums. Possible guest vocalists had been discussed at several occasions over the years, but now when they had their own studio the band finally felt they had the time to do something about it. Mikael had earlier discussed a possible guest appearance with LOST HORIZON vocalist Daniel Heiman, and now it resulted in Daniel singing lead on the song THE WIZARD'S APPRENTICE. The German band CHROMING ROSE' first three albums had for long been some of Mikael's favourite albums, and via Mark Frostenäs at SWEDEN ROCK MAGAZINE he sent a loose question to Gerd Salewski, who was CHROMING ROSE' vocalist on those albums. Initially it was a long shot, but Gerd thought it was cool that there still were people around who remembered and appreciated what he had done over ten years ago. So in December Gerd flew up to Sweden, stayed for a week, and recorded the lead vocals on the song THE BEAST IN VELVET and backing vocals for the entire album. The cover artwork was once again made by Kristian Wåhlin, this time featuring a sci-fi oriented motive inspired by Andreas Götesson's lyrics to the title track VENGEANCE DESCENDING. The album was released on the 12th of May 2003. A few weeks after that CRYSTAL EYES made their largest live appearance so far when they played the SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL on the 6th of June. During the fall of 2003 and the spring of 2004 the band made some Swedish club gigs to support the release.
CONFESSIONS OF THE MAKER » By the summer of 2004 Mikael had written eleven new songs for a fourth album. Since the band was very satisfied with Daniel Heiman's vocals on THE WIZARD'S APPRENTICE they asked him to sing one or two songs on the new record as well. A few months later Daniel left LOST HORIZON, and the band then decided to approach Daniel about taking over the lead vocals in CRYSTAL EYES. Daniel was positive about singing in CRYSTAL EYES, but also made clear that when he quit LOST HORIZON he'd set his mind on spending more time on other things, and that he would sing on the album and upcoming gigs as a session vocalist. Since Mikael had been the lead singer of CRYSTAL EYES for twelve years the rest of the band convinced him to sing one track on the new album as well, the ballad SILENT ANGEL. The whole production phase of VENGEANCE DESCENDING took about seven months, something the band felt they needed to speed up. It was decided to record the drums at LOS ANGERED RECORDINGS with Andy La Rocque, and that Mikael and Claes had to take a month off from their jobs to finish the recordings, production and mixing at CRYSTAL SOUNDS. This resulting in a total production time less than three months. CONFESSIONS OF THE MAKER was released on the first of April 2005. This time with a cover artwork differing quite a lot from the previous ones signed Mattias Norén.
RE-RELEASES » Since WORLD OF BLACK AND SILVER and IN SILENCE THEY MARCH had sold out, HEAVY FIDELITY bought the rights for the two albums from CRAZY LIFE MUSIC and re-released them at the same date as CONFESSIONS OF THE MAKER. The intention was to re-mix and re-master both records, but unfortunately CRAZY LIFE MUSIC never saved the original master tapes. On the ninth of June CRYSTAL EYES opened the SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL in front of their largest audience so far. Estimated to somewhere around 6000. Right before the gig they made an interview for Swedish television, and the whole performance was filmed for the SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL DVD, which featured the song THE WIZARD'S APPRENTICE. This unfortunately became CRYSTAL EYES only performance with Daniel.
A NEW SINGER » CONFESSIONS OF THE MAKER had just been released when Daniel informed the band that he couldn't appear on any more records, and that he would only sing at the SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL gig. He'd just got a record deal with his own band HEED, and he wanted to focus on writing and recording their debut album. This was of course really bad timing for CRYSTAL EYES, and the band missed all opportunities to play live and promote the new record properly during the summer. It was then decided to hold the news until the end of the summer, and during this time Mikael was busy writing new songs. After announcing the search for a new singer Mikael received tons of material from vocalists all over the world. After a few auditions Søren Nico Adamsen from Denmark came to the studio and just blew everyone away. His raw powerful voice was just perfect, and on the fourth of December CRYSTAL EYES announced him as the new permanent singer. To get things off to a good start with Nico the band made a one off gig on the third of February 2006 in their hometown Borås.
DEAD CITY DREAMING » By the end of 2005 Mikael had written ten new songs for the fifth album. This time he had done things a bit different by including and re-working parts from his large archive of unreleased CRYSTAL EYES songs together with completely new stuff, resulting in a slightly more diverse material. While planning the new recording session the band and the record company agreed that the production had to be taken to the next level. Besides re-equipping the studio it was decided to let Fredrik Nordström at STUDIO FREDMAN take care of the mixing. The basic recordings were done during April and May 2006, some polishing during the summer, and the mixing in the beginning of September. The cover artwork was once again created by Mattias Norén. This time inspired be Andreas Götesson's lyrics to DEAD CITY DREAMING, which is based upon early 20th century weird fiction author H. P. Lovecraft's THE CALL OF CTHULHU.
A NEW GUITARIST » During the recording of the new album Jonathan decided to leave the band. With a growing family, a house and a full time job he felt his engagement in CRYSTAL EYES had been suffering too much. Mikael finished the guitar recordings by himself, but Jonathan played one solo as a farewell gesture. When he left Mikael knew exactly who he wanted as his replacement. Since Mikael was playing in the same cover band as his old band mate, and CRYSTAL EYES co-founding member, Niclas Karlsson he simply asked if he was interested to come back. During the short break in 1995 Niclas quit the band and formed FIERCE CONVICTION (later CONVICTION), which released two albums. After that he appeared on one album with ZONATA, and played for a short while with FRETERNIA and RISING FAITH. Since Niclas entered the band so late in the process of creating DEAD CITY DREAMING he doesn't play anything on the album.
To be continued...