Review Summary: KE 101 is a year defining album in industrial metal
Crossbreed started out in 1996 as a rather crappy band trying to capitalize on the nu metal movement that was going on in the late 90's till early 2000's. They released their first demo LP titled .01
back in 1998 independently. The demo was mainly just bad nu-metal with a few electronic touches here and there. The voice of vocalist James Breed was undeveloped to say the least and other than a few gripping riffs here and there, .01
didn't have much value. In the year 2000, Crossbreed were signed to Artemis records and less than a year after that, released their real debut LP titled Synthetic Division
. It was a strong effort that combined the industrial and nu metal genres nicely into Crossbreed's own original sound. After the release of Synthetic Division
though the band disappeared for a while. They returned in 2005 with a 7 track EP called New Slave Nation
. It showed the band somewhat ditching their nu metal influences and aiming for a more full-on industrial sound. Now more than 2 years past its original projected release date, Crossbreed have finally delivered their sophomore album, KE 101
With that history lesson out of the way, let me assure you that Crossbreed have come a long way since 1996. What was a lousy nu metal band back then, is now a confident industrial force from Florida, U.S. Synthetic Division
exhibited much promise, New Slave Nation
expanded on that potential, and KE 101
is the final stage. That's not to say Crossbreed's career will be finished after this album, it's just very hard to see them topping it.
is exactly like an industrial album should be. It's aggressive, it's crushing, it's full off (mostly) non-processed, strong vocals and it's packed with neat electronic effects, covered by the wrecking guitars. The bass is audible most of the time and together with the drumming it provides a more-than-solid rhythm section. The production is rather clear, but since we are dealing with industrial, it still has that dirty feel to it. It is well-balanced and gives every member of the band an opportunity to shine. Crossbreed have also finally distanced themselves from their nu metal roots. There will probably always be a slight nu influence in their music, but on KE 101
it really isn't audible anymore.
has got six entirely new songs, four remakes, and one cover. All of the new songs are great, with "Hollow" and "End Of Days" being some of the best the band has ever written. Others like "Kill Everything" and "Emote" deserve being mentioned as well, but in general, one has to ask: which songs shouldn't be namedropped? All the new songs have a powerful feel to them. They have first-class choruses, interesting build-ups, unpredictable (yet well-executed) hooks, and they all impress by being stand-out industrial metal tracks in an otherwise stagnant year for the genre. There isn't a single letdown in the bunch and every track has a lot to offer for the listener. The remakes are more hit-and-miss though.
"Tb Not" is a great remake which surpasses its original by being more of an actual song as the original sounded too much like a mesh of drums, guitars and effects, lacking a clear build-up and a chorus of sorts. "Beg" is a good song on its own, but doesn't quite cut it when compared to the original - mostly because the original was a near-perfect industrial song. The powerful drums in the beginning of the original "Beg" were too much for the remake to overcome and the whole song lacks the fuzzy, aggressive production the original had which made it so awesome.
"Saints Of Grey" is the only weak(er) song on this album. It's Crossbreed's most famous song to date and sadly the remake simply lacks the sharp edge the original had. The extremely low-tuned solo in the middle of the track is just weak compared to the pounding-original and the whole song would benefit from being much more raw (like the original "Saints Of Grey" was). Finally, the last of the remakes is "Control" and that track is the icing on this album. It's a depressive slow song with a sad atmosphere. J.Breed's vocals are downright begging in the chorus and the overall melancholic feel of the song is very genuine, making "Control" the best song on this album, hands down.
The aforementioned cover is "Superstition", originally performed by Stevie Wonder in 1972. Crossbreed's version of it is rock solid as well; they manage to input a lot of groove and funk into their performance which is a very unusual thing for an industrial metal band to do. Even J.Breed manages to sing in a funky manner, almost ditching his usual cold, icy voice.
Even though Crossbreed may have been just a little bit lazy during the recording process of this album, as four of the 11 tracks are remakes, all the songs on this record still stand very well on their own (yes, even the “Saints Of Grey” remake) and I am proud to say that KE 101
might, and probably will be the best industrial metal album of this year. No weak spots, no letdowns. The only thing this album could benefit more from would for it to be longer as KE 101
only has 11 songs and clocks just below 40 minutes.
So, after creating such a superb album, where does that leave Crossbreed? Well you can pat yourselves on the back guys, as what you have done here is top quality stuff. Tour around, play some gigs, enjoy the life and don’t take another 9 ***ing years to release a new album!