More Album Reviews

Secrets of The Witching HourOn the eve of the official album release date, here’s a few more reviews of the thing to persuade anyone who hasn’t downloaded it yet.

Chip Adams from The Tripwire says “For a self-produced and self-mixed effort, these lads have done a mighty exceptional job”.

Giving the album 4/5 is Entertainment Manchester, who also compare it to Davey’s former band’s first album.

Meanwhile, John Siwicki at Comfort Comes gives the thing 8.3 / 10, saying “the album will not disappoint”, while a review at the Free Albums Galore blog says “this is a band well worth checking out”.

As well as reviews there’s the usual bunch of foreign press too, this time coming from Italy’s Indie Music blog mentioning the album release, and Wales’ Radio Cymru who mention both the band’s album and trip to China.

The Crimea
Secrets Of The Witching Hour (Self-Released)

Release Date: 05.07.07

The music business has become a dangerous place for a band. The major labels can provide a valuable financial lifeline to an artist when times are good, but if album sales aren’t where they are expected to be, the plug can be pulled mighty quick. This was the case with the London based group The Crimea, who found themselves being dropped after their debut didn’t sell like gangbusters, decided to skip the whole record label part of their lives and are self-releasing their sophomore album, Secrets Of The Witching Hour. Oh yeah, and they are offering it up for free as an online download as well. Planning on making their money on touring and merch rather than album sales, The Crimea are entering some pretty uncharted waters when it comes to paying the bills, but with an album that is as strong as this one, it just might work.

Witching Hour starts things off with the moody sound of distant horns, setting a foggy tone that is slowly filled with some spoken word (apparently performed by Regina Spektor), which is abruptly ended when the rolling guitars kick in on “All Conquering.” As we’ve come to expect from The Crimea, the song is huge, filled with washes of reverb-coated guitar and just enough slick production to put a nice sheen on the sound. A few seconds of strings segue us into “The 48A Waiting Steps.” Although this one is a bit less moody, the slightly disco-flavored drums and lighter instrumentation don’t change the vibe much at all, but would you really expect a happy pop track from The Crimea? I didn’t think so.

“Man” has one of the more memorable melodies on Witching Hour, sounding like a recent effort from Manic Street Preachers but with Davey Macmanus’ scratchy vocals. This marks one of the most accessible moments on the album, so if you happen to be new to the band, consider this a possible starting point. Another album standout is the upbeat “Light Brigade,” filled with moments of lush orchestration as the song builds up to volcanic eruption of stomping drums, topped off with a single trumpet. The cinematic moments such as this are what make this a great listen.

For their sophomore album, The Crimea have offered up quite a great collection of songs. For a self-produced and self-mixed effort, these lads have done a mighty exceptional job. After listening to the whole record a few times, the sheer scope of the material is at times overwhelming. Spending time recording in London, Norfolk and Latvia definitely rubbed off on the sound of Secrets Of The Witching Hour, which you can hear for yourself via the downloads below.

The Crimea

Review by Chip Adams for The Tripwire, 09/05/07.

The Crimea – Secrets Of The Witching Hour

You don’t get anything for free, they always say. That’s usually true, even for those of us lucky enough to get albums sent to us with no money changing hands, because we still have to work for them by doing reviews. However, The Crimea are out to change that, and have released their second album for download entirely free. You can get some music for free (legally, we’re talking about here) on the net on excellent sites like, but they are usually only either label samplers or really really bad albums that you would never consider paying for anyway. That’s what is different about Secrets Of The Witching Hour, because while The Crimea are a criminally underrated band who haven’t ever had the kind of sales that they deserve, they are still the kind of band who have a very loyal fanbase who would happily rush out to buy this as soon as it came out. They just don’t have enough to inspire the same kind of loyalty from record labels, which is why they’ve decided to release their album by themselves for free, rather than go through the usual channels. Everyone loves getting something for nothing, so the hope is that enough people will check it out and like it to mean that the band can easily make their money back when they go on tour and have a whole new load of fans coming to gigs, buying t-shirts etc. The good news in that respect is that Secrets Of The Witching Hour is another great album from Davey MacManus, though having already released two of them with The Crocketts and another with The Crimea, whether the quality of the music will be enough to guarantee success is another matter. MacManus is simply one of the best songwriters the British music scene has seen (and then ignored) in the last few decades, with the first Crocketts album We May Be Skinny And Wirey a masterpiece of thoughtful indie-rock. The first Crimea album was slightly hit and miss, though the highlights were fantastic, but thankfully Secrets is probably MacManus’ most consistent record since Skinny And Wirey. The fairly slow pace of it along with the lovely melodies and pristine guitar-playing as well as his typically quirky lyrics. One possible problem is that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious stand-out track to hook sceptics in, though both Light Brigade and Bombay Sapphire Coma are excellent. Whether it’s an interesting commercial experiment or the last desperate act of a another band who never got the breaks they deserved, Secrets Of The Witching Hour is an excellent album, so why not check out our for yourselves? Download it for free here:

Review taken from Entertainment Manchester, May 2007.

The Crimea » Secrets of the Witching Hour
Score: 8.3

The Crimea for their second album did something unusual. The band are currently without a label which, seems so wrong because “Tragedy Rocks” is so damn good. The band decided to just give their second album away for free download on their website. The Crimea must be applauded for their stunning move and as writing this review 10,000 plus albums have been downloaded and it has only been out there for a few days.

“Secrets….” is a great follow up I am happy to report. The album kicks off with “All Conquering” which is a rather epic sounding straight up rock tune. Then we get a track like “The 48A Waiting Steps” that has a tropical, summery vibe to it. “Bombay Sapphire Coma” appeared previous as a b-side but it is good enough to warrant a bump up. Great guitar and the section will it sounds choir like is genius. This song needs to be played over and over again. “Loop a Loop” may just be one of the catchiest things you hear all year with the humming and the “loopaloops.”

“Secrets of the Witching Hour” is great, sure its free and who doesn’t like free things. But, the album will not disappoint. “The 48A Waiting Steps” “Loop a Loop” and “Bombay Sapphire Coma” are all massive songs in the waiting. I can’t stop singing along with “Loop a Loop.” Head over to the Crimea website and give the album a try and support a band who are willing to try to do things different

Review by John Siwicki for Comfort Comes, May 2007.

The Crimea – Secrets of the Witching Hour

The Crimea is an indie band comprised of musicians from Wales, Ireland, and Zimabwe. They are offering a free online album of passionate rock.

From the first sound of guitars and vocals off the opening track “All Conquering”, it is evident that The Smashing Pumpkins and Billy Gorgan stands as a primary influence. But there is also some very nice indie pop lyricism a la Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel. Vocalist and guitarist Davey MacManus is central to the group with his very personal lyrics and intimate voice. I like the slower songs like “Raining Planets” but rockers like “Light Brigade” will also capture your ears. Another favorite is the gorgeously thoughtful “Several Thousand Years of Talking Nonsense”. This is a band well worth checking out.

The album is available in 128kbps MP3. If you enjoy the music, support the artists by buying their CDs.


Article from Free Albums Galore, 08/05/07.

The Crimea: Secrets of the Witching Hour


Il gruppo britannico alternative, rock/indie The Crimea, che attualmente ha un contratto con la Warner, ha fatto un nuovo album auto-finanziato: “Secrets of the Witching Hour” disponibile in download free dal loro sito ufficiale.

Dal 4 giugno, una versione del CD sarà offerta in vendita online in base agli ordini ricevuti via mail. La speranza dei membri della band è che l’offerta libera della vendita del Cd online aumenterà le richieste e di conseguenza le performance live e la vendita del merchandising.

Sembra che la band abbia azzeccato, l’album è già stato scaricato più di 14.000 volte.

In attesa di vedere se il download free funziona ( e perchè non dovrebbe?), la band si sta preparandosi per una serie di concerti in Cina questo mese, prima del ritorno nel Regno Unito per un giro di quattro settimane che comincia il 18 maggio.

The British alternative rock/indie group, The Crimea, perviously having a contract with the Warner, have made a new self-financed album: “Secrets of the Witching Hour” available in download free from their official website.

From the 4 june, a version of the CD will be offered for sale online based on orders received via email. The hope of the members of the band is that the free offer of the online CD will consequently increase to the demand for live performances and the sale of merchandising.

It seems that the band it has guessed, the album already has been downloaded more than 14,000 times.

In wait to see if the free download works (and why would it not), the band this month are preparing for a series of concerts in China, before the return ito the United Kingdom for a tour of four weeks that begins in May.

Article by Caterina for Indie Music, 11/05/07.

Y Crimea yn gwneud hanes
Mis yma bydd The Crimea – gyda’r Cymro Owen Hopkin ar y drymiau, yn gwneud hanes, trwy fod y band adnabyddus cyntaf i roi albwm newydd i ffwrdd am ddim ar y wê.Er I’r band wario miloedd yn ysgrifennu a recordio’r albym, bydd pawb yn gallu lawrlwytho’r albym ‘Secrets Of The Witching Hour’ am ddim
Siaradodd Owen a ni ar y rhaglen am yr albym, ac hefyd am eu perfformiadau yn Beijing – yn dilyn gwahoddiad i ganu yno gan Llywodraeth Beijing.

Article by Magi D for Radio Cymru’s C2, 09/05/07.

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