King Crimson predicted the heavy terror of contemporary metal in "21st Century Schizoid Man," the first song on their 1969 debut, In the Court of the Crimson King. The Power to Believe, the first full-length Crimson studio album in three years, goes even further. It is the sound of apocalypse now. Guitarists Adrian Belew, Trey Gunn and Robert Fripp (Crimson's sole surviving original member) build black cathedrals of spired shriek and iron-block fuzz in "Level Five" and "Facts of Life"; drummer Pat Mastelotto's death-disco strut through "Dangerous Curves" stokes the guitars' bleak stutter. But this record is really about the faith that beats all darkness. The bells and electronics in "The Power to Believe II" cut through the paranoia with the clanging sunshine of Indonesian gamelan music as Belew, in a watery sigh, sings the album's core lyric: "She saved my life, in a manner of speaking/When she gave me back the power to believe." In the face of war, King Crimson make hopeful thunder.
(Posted: Mar 20, 2003)