For Fans Of
If you didn’t know, Crystal Lake hail from Tokyo, Japan and they’ve been around since 2002. Yet despite the long run, they are mainly known as that cool, hip, young band with the truly sick cover of Limp Bizkit’s ‘Rollin’. But don’t let the ‘Cover A Big Song To Get Famous’ scheme fool you; these guys are more than just a flash in the pan band. They’ve got the guts to back it up and coincidentally; they prove that with their new album, ‘The Sign’. And boy, is it a real …sign of what’s to come. (Fuck, don’t worry, I’ll let myself out).
This quintet are one of the few modern hardcore/metalcore bands out there right now that can convey a real sense of speed and energy in their music. That’s not always an easy thing to bring to life to someone listening to the album on monitors or crappy speakers at home, on shitty iPod headphones while out and about, or in their car as they gather the nerve to go inside and inform their parents they’ll be taking up a writing like an idiot. Sometimes it just takes the right band, with the right songs, with the right tempo and sound. And Crystal Lake have all of those magical ingredients. Once you couple that damn fine song-writing of theirs with an impeccably clean mix, you’ve got one upper-tier metalcore product on you hands, or rather, in your ears.
‘Matrix’ is a fast slice of modern metalcore with just a wee-bit of progressive metal to it, kind of like the fuck-child of Volumes and The Ghost Inside. ‘Prometheus’ is one of the heaviest songs the band has to their name (and has one of the best breakdowns of 2015), whereas ‘Dreamcatcher’ is nearly the complete opposite, with melodic hooks, some clean vocals, and synth pads leading into the band’s metalcore sound. The same can also be said for ‘Light Up The Tunnel‘, and then there’s ‘New Romancer‘, which combines all the elements of the band’s sound into a two and a half minute rage-fest. Furthermore, ‘Sleep Awake‘ is a great example of how to do commercial sounding metalcore like In Hearts Wake. (At the half way point, Jake Taylor from IHW shows up for a guest spot).
However, ‘The Sign’ isn’t totally void of disappointment, with one song in particular, ‘Hades’, springing to mind. First up, the amount of swearing in this song is reminiscent of an Attila song, just minus all of the C-bombs. It goes from being passable and barely noticeable in the lyrics to the only thing you can focus on towards the end of the track. Secondly, the song uses other song lyrics, most notably ‘If you’re 555, then I’m 666’ (Slipknot’s ‘The Heretic Anthem’) and ‘I’ve got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one’ (Jay-z, duh), and it just feels weird. Weird that they’d mash a few lyrics of other artists together, but not take the full cover route like they have done so before. Maybe it’s a reference or homage to artists they all really like, like how Hellions quoted Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Guerrilla Radio‘ in the ‘The Great Fabricator‘, but who really knows. Also, the token instrumental tracks of ‘Astra‘ and the title track don’t really help matters either. They just kind of show up, and the album could’ve done without them as a whole.
Oh, and if you liked that ‘Rollin’ cover, don’t worry, these guys have got you covered again. There is a Japanese bonus song for the album – a cover of Beastie Boys ‘Body Movin’ (a little Internet searching with yield you this sweet, sweet cover). From the second this reviewer saw that song title in the track listing, he knew he was in for a good fucking time, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s arguably one of the best songs they’ve ever recorded too. In fact, they could just be a cover band and live off that for the rest of their career, that’s how damn good they are at it.
Yes, one listen to Crystal Lake and it’s clear that The Ghost Inside have been a very BIG influence on this band’s sound, but they have just the right amount of added groove, heaviness and outside influences to differentiate themselves from The Ghost Inside/Hundredth sounding crowd. Despite the odd misstep, ‘The Sign’ is the first big chance that Crystal Lake have towards conquering the musical world beyond the shores of their home country. With the reception the record has gotten so far, this could very well be the beginning of something beautiful. Just please don’t screw it up, boys.
5. Dream Catcher
6. The Sign
7. New Romancer
9. Sleep Awake
10. Light Up The Tunnel