Review Summary: A very atypical deathcore album that is strongly versed in both technicality and melody.
It's not often that one encounters a deathcore band like The Crimson Armada. The modern deathcore scene is heavily populated by a host of very similar bands that are all marked by a signature sound of tasteless homogenized guitar riffs and jackhammer breakdowns that serve no real purpose other than to inspire arenas packed full of screaming teenagers to mosh like there's no tomorrow. Perhaps the most confusing aspect of deathcore is the sheer amount of attention that it receives. Since its conception in the early 2000's deathcore has embarked on a shocking ascent into the mainstream and gathered a massive following. Why is this? The most famous figures in deathcore such as Bring me the Horizon and Suicide Silence are certainly not regarded for their technical skill or incredible song-writing capabilities. No, deathcore is loved because is probably one of the (if not thee) heaviest genre in all of metal. Your typical fan of deathcore isn't looking for blazing guitar solos or extremely technical riffs, they're looking for something to scare their parents or something that they can thrash about wildly to in public, and on both counts, deathcore delivers. So what happens when you get a band that can both set the crowds in motion and write a damn good song? The answer: The Crimson Armada.
From the very start of their debut album Guardians, TCA unleashes their full devastating potential with a storm of crushing riffs and typically explosive drums. Unlike most deathcore bands, TCA’s riff library is not heavily focused on mashing the open fret while palm muting the strings. Instead, TCA guitarists Dan Hatfield and Kyle Barrington explore actual song-writing and succeed in creating a slew of fret-burning melodies that blur past the listeners ear in a furious hail of notes. This is not to say that the palm moshing is completely absent on the album. As with all deathcore albums, Guardians is strewn with lead heavy breakdowns that are characterized by pulsing double bass and of course the signature chug-chug guitar sound. However stale the breakdown may have become, it actually fits snuggly with TCA’s blistering riff barrage, and the breakdown actually becomes a tasteful addition to the song rather than a pointless fill.
Unfortunately, the vocal aspect of TCA leaves a bit to be desired. Vocalist Saud utilizes three vocal styles throughout Guardians; the standard deep-throated growl, the piercing shriek and an odd and awkward bastardization of both that needs to be greatly improved, or abandoned completely. Saud’s growls and screams are standard to the genre, and nothing that will catch your ear (unlike the infamous signature vocals of Oli Sykes). However, Saud often tries mixing both screaming and growling to create an ugly braying grunt that sounds halfway between the sound of a pig being slaughtered and the sound of a gorilla trying to eat a package of industrial nails and failing miserably. The reason for this harsh and rather disgusting vocal style is beyond me, and I hope that it is not included on any of TCA’s later works. I am only consoled by the fact that at least it’s not pig-squealing.
All together, The Crimson Armada is a very unique band, bringing to the table a surprisingly strong deathcore album that dapples in both melodic and technical death metal and succeeds at both. Perhaps in the future, The Crimson Armada will abandon its deathcore roots and settle with either one of the death metal offshoots but for now, they’re at least brining a breath of fresh air to a stagnant deathcore scene.
[+] Tremendously good riffs
[+] Extremely technical and melodic
[+] Excellent song-writing
[-] Vocal performance needs improvement
[-] Album is a bit long
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