Crossfaith – ‘Ex Machina’ (Album Review)
“Electronicore concept album” is something of a mouthful, but it perfectly encapsulates what Crossfaith have lined up for their fifth full-length release. Already globally notorious for their consistently inventive mix of assorted metal and electronic styles, these guys have managed to make an admittedly odd-sounding proposition work very well. Given Crossfaith’s history, based as it is on mashing up creative elements that on paper shouldn’t work so effectively in combination, perhaps that’s not surprising.
In order to tell a dystopian sci-fi story, concerning a world ruled by “Angels” while rebellious “Demons” seek to bring them down, Crossfaith have expanded their sonic palette further than ever before. Early Ex Machina tracks Catastrophe and The Perfect Nightmare represent Crossfaith at their most savage yet, which is really saying something, while hearing Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari rap over trap during Freedom (before things again take a turn for the brutal) is as awesome as it should sound. Strangely, Destroy proves disappointing despite the presence of trap-hardcore crossover mentalists Ho99o9 – although given their peerless reputation, perhaps my expectations just ran too high in the runup to actually hearing it.
Beyond Freedom, Crossfaith remain capable of surprising. Make A Move induces a false sense of security, returning to familiar electronicore ingredients; Lost In You goes a bit Linkin Park; Wipeout summons the spirit of drum ‘n’ bass metal legends Pendulum; and Milestone breaks from the core Ex Machina concept and style altogether, a post-hardcore track which sees Crossfaith pen a song about themselves. Eden In The Rain again salutes Linkin Park, but actually reminds me more of 2000s alt-metallers Audiovent; Twin Shadows is a short, repetitive interlude; and the whole thing closes on Daybreak, which starts out sounding like a power metal epic until throat-destroying screams and Slipknot-go-metalcore riffs tear everything apart.
One massive, anthemic outro later, and all that remains of Ex Machina is a cover of Linkin Park’s classic Faint. Although that band deserve all the love in the world as they continue to rebuild in the wake of Chester Bennington’s passing, this cover isn’t great, and ends the album on a below-par note. Perhaps it would fit on a post-release EP, but as an album Ex Machina is best off without it.
Negative point aside, the vast majority of this album is pretty damn sick. After all they’ve done before, Crossfaith have managed to evolve still further, and sound like themselves as they do it. Awesome.
LTK RATING: 86%
Pre-order Ex Machina (out August 3) on iTunes.
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