For Fans Of
There are a handful of Japanese bands that I really do love, including (but not strictly limited to) the likes of Dir En Grey, Envy, Crystal Lake, Mono, Heaven In Her Arms, and Maximum The Hormone. Crossfaith, however, are not a band – Japanese or otherwise – that I love nor even merely like on a good day. In fact, I think the only Crossfaith-related thing that I’ve actually enjoyed was frontman’s Kenta Koie’s guest part on Crystal Lake’s ‘Beloved‘ followed ever so slightly b their debut LP, ‘The Dream, The Space‘, from which they’ve phoned it in for years. And with the Osaka quintet’s newest EP, ‘Freedom‘, it’s only added more fuel to my own burning fires of indifference towards this electro-metal group.
Much like 2015’s ‘Xeno‘ and their from-out-of-nowhere 2016 EP, ‘New Age Warriors‘, this neo-futuristic manga-esque EP’s three songs are laden with Crossfaith’s usual sonic tropes. From the beefy, heavy guitar chugs, the airtight yet rather standard metalcore drumming, the occasional decent breakdown so the core kids have a good reason to mosh, a sheer quantity of synths that would outshine a warehouse rave party, to the sky-scraping choruses all vying desperately for your attention – it’s all there and accounted.
So yes, expect the expected going into this one. Which should maybe tell you all you need to know about this EP.
The opening titular track (along with the rest of the EP, mind you) is all very by the numbers for Crossfaith’s sound, just now with an added sci-fi, dystopian tone and setting that never really goes deeper or gets fleshed out lyrically. It just feels like a half-dressed thematic backdrop, really. Narrative aside, with a very gritty bass tone and wailing siren-like synth lines as an intro, the band launched into their go-to aforementioned mixture right away on the EP’s first song. And it’s… fine, but there’s not a great deal to speak of at first. That all changes completely when the song reaches its midsection and gets a mammoth boost in listener interest and quality when Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds suddenly lends his distinguished voice to the song, which genuinely makes it comes across like an unreleased, heavy Enter Shikari song as a result. However, there’s nothing else of real note here sadly, and old mate’s feature really is the one true high-point of the EP’s eponymous song; a solid section that’ll please any disenfranchised listeners with that band’s recent, less-heavier works.
The EP’s second song and glorified party tune, the MC/hip-hop flavoured ‘Rockstar Steady‘, is this edgy, cringy call for a return to the “good old days” of larger than life rock stars and the prevalence of cocky, douchebag attitudes. Whereas Reynolds made for the best part of the title track’s proceedings, here on ‘Rockstar Steady‘, Jesse McFaddin of The Bonez and Rize features and he fairs much worse-off. His inclusion just comes off as utterly pompous with early lines like, “Fuck this/fuck that/fuck you so fuck what you gonna do about it because I’m all about it“. (Whoa, easy there, Fronz). And look, that’s no doubt the whole point of McFaddin’s feature and the song as a whole – to come off as arrogant rockers – but Jesus Christ does it cause an eye-roll and a half! There’s a good reason those kinds of rock stars died out, both figuratively speaking and literally. On the matter, McFaddin has a much better, far more interesting guest feature on Crystal Lake’s catchy as fuck banger ‘Black and Blue‘; a moment that fits the overall song’s flow better and actually adds to the track. I mean, the one and only thing that I actually enjoyed from ‘Rockstar Steady‘ was the song’s occasional vocoder vocals. Which isn’t really a good sign, is it?
Anyway, the final song, ‘Diavolos‘, is by far heaviest of the trio, what with its stomping metalcore pacing and galloping riffs, and with an overall structure and flow that’ll make you feel like its 2007 again. From start to end, it’s arguably the most consistent representation of Crossfaith’s overall sound of the lot here and the best of the three. From the track’s heavier moments (the choruses thundering double kicks, the aggro, jagged guitars, a greater emphasis on Koie’s screaming and lower vocal register, that genuinely wicked breakdown-filled middle eight from 1:38 up to the 2:25 mark) to the group’s melodic and genuinely anthemic elements (the backing vocals, that grand uplifting chorus and its catchy AF melody, and the ear-catching bright synths throughout). It really is a solid tune! However, by this point, it’s just too little, too fucking late.
Because at not even 10 bloody minutes long, ‘Freedom‘ is a very brief listen and one that barely has any lasting impact either. Which is, funnily enough, the complete opposite effect that the most recent UNFD release had, Cursed Earth’s ‘Cycles Of Grief Volume 1: Growth‘.
I’ve said all I needed to above about this new, grossly sub par Crossfaith EP, so I’m just going to go listen to something more wholesome. Like the new Contortionist record, for instance. Yeah, that’ll do me just fine! Peace.
2. Rockstar Steady
‘Freedom’ is out now via UNFD. Also, goddamn, that artwork is just fucking woeful! I know that the band are going for this manga-like aesthetic but that silvery-figure just looks like a poorly done character from Reboot.