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Look, let’s get right down to business. ‘Retrograde’ is a fucking top tier record and in my completely factual and absolutely correct opinion (please note the sarcasm) Crown The Empire are one of the best metalcore acts in the scene as of right now. They proven this and then some with their latest and greatest release. How? Well, I’ll show you…
First main point: Take one big old look at ‘Hologram’. This song is a perfect example of how you write a goddamn song. Now, that sounds like a dumb sentence, sure but just go listen to that chorus! It’s big, isn’t it? Some would say too big. I say fuck those people. I also say that most bands nowadays at all levels of the industry couldn’t pull that shit off even with an orchestra behind them. It kicks in at just the right time, the song never wasting time in the verses with the band utilising every single second of it for maximum effect. This creates a song that is crammed full of energy and power and never gives you a chance to lose interest or to feel bored. And that bridge’s magnificence and greatness trumps that of the Golden Gate Bridge and that really cool one with the towers in London. Also, younger bands, take notice of how the groove and harmonies change on the final choruses. This gives you a sense of worth and purpose for listening to the song right to the end, even though that second chorus seemed like it was the clincher and cherry on top. Seriously, that ending is just another cherry on top and boy, does it taste sweet. ‘Hologram’ is a high-octane pleasure machine that makes me feel like everything is going to be okay, even now that Harambe is gone (#dicksoutforharambe).
Whilst I’m breaking down this band’s insane ability to craft catchy and huge choruses that make Trump’s hands look even smaller than they already are, there’s plenty more jams to look out for here. For instance, ‘Weight of The World’ is a huge rock anthem on a full roid-rage bender that has a deliriously catchy verse that also gave me severe whiplash from bobbing my head back and forth. ‘Signs of Life’ had me fooled for a few minutes, thinking it was just an acoustic-focused song before it went full ham. Also, the verses on ‘Aftermath’ will get you groovin’ and movin’ and when it all kicks in bumpin’ and ‘jumpin, that classic metalcore breakdown will get you moshin’ and…er, um, it’s good shit is what I’m trying to say! Lastly, try not to pump your fist too jigh and sing your lungs redraw throughout the banger that is ‘Are You Coming With Me?’. I fucking dare you.
Second main point: This album just sounds bloody fantastic. When the drums and bass hit, I feel them hit. From my head right down to soles of my feet, the sound of the kick and chugging bass lines resonate deep within my soul, giving me a spiritual reawakening of sorts. The guitars sit so perfectly and comfortably in the mix around the rhythm section and they serve to both support and drive the songs simultaneously. And the vocals are a neat little blanket that tucks the whole thing in comfortably, without ever getting in the way as they slot in nicely with every other sound going on here. Plus, the added synths, electronics and atonal sound bites all form a cohesive shape around everything else, adding yet another layer to the sonic palette that only betters this album as a whole.
Third main point: This album feels honest and at times, very vulnerable in both the lyrics and the way the vocals are delivered. As clean vocalist Andy Leo belts out “Are you coming with me?” it feels in parts a plea for his friends and family to stay with him as he ventures off into this world of touring and gigging. The same goes for ‘Hologram’. Jesus Christ, my fucking heart breaks as he calls out “Do you know who I am?” in sheer desperation. But the slight tension in his voice as he screams “I just want to know, am I becoming a hologram?” paints the incredibly powerful imagery of a man standing before those he loves and feeling a disconnect that should only be reserved for a passerby on the street. There’s a level of openness here that I think everyone needs to open themselves up to with Crown the Empire. Even when the band conform and speak about love in ‘Oxygen’, possibly the most chilled out song on the album, there’s still a huge emphasis on the band’s emotive sensibilities in all of the songs aspect’s that simply needs to be heard rather than explained.
But surely, there must be a negative somewhere here? Right!?. Well, I mean, I guess that ‘Zero’ was a little lacklustre and overly generic. But I still fuck with that song hard!
So, sorry dudes and dudettes, but this is just an amazing record. That’s really all there is to it. Even the electronic yet and doomgazey interlude of ‘The Fear Is Real’ is sweet with its great percussion and concrete music aspects, like something out of a Trent Reznor soundtrack. Even the artwork is fantastic! The mix of those cool and warm colours that bleed into the centre down a rabbit hole like imagery is anything but aesthetically pleasing.
So yeah, that was a whole lot of words to say that this is one of my albums of the year.
This is easily Crown the Empire’s best work to date. No fucking doubt about it. The band has crafted a record that puts their peers to shame for writing the same repetitive and inbred drivel that I’m honestly down right sick of. ‘Retrograde’ gets to the goddamn point and stays there within seconds, delivering incredible levels of sonic depth and emotion at all the right times, whilst sounding like a record should: clear, concise and powerful.
2.Are You Coming With Me?
6. The Fear Is Real
7. Lucky Us
8. Weight of the World
9. Signs of Life