Review Summary: Radio rock that you won’t feel guilty for sinking your teeth into.
About halfway through We All Bleed
’s opening track, ‘Dead Memories’, Crossfade’s newfound aggressive edge becomes overwhelmingly apparent. It wouldn’t be the first time that a popular rock band declared an album to be their “heaviest yet”, and considering that it has been five years since Crossfade’s last full length release, an attention-grabbing statement such as this would seem like a plausible way to build hype for a band that is dead in the eyes of most people. However, We All Bleed
may be the first album in quite some time to deliver on such a promise. It’s still radio-rock, which means it comes with its share of regrettable moments, but Crossfade actually does something admirable with a genre that has long been wasting away – they make it their own. This is a whole league above the half-hearted, cliché-ridden records that were released this year by peers such as Seether and Rise Against. While far from perfect, We All Bleed
may prove to be the catalyst that makes radio rock relevant again, or at least shakes it out of its long, lifeless slumber.
Now I feel it may be necessary to reveal to you that most of We All Bleed
is not as heavy as the boisterous ‘Dead Memories’, although that doesn’t disprove the band’s bold claim. The majority of the record is heavy in an atmospheric sense; it relies on pounding drums and spacey, elongated electric chords to create a sense of disarray and confusion. Songs such as ‘Prove You Wrong’ even add a slight electronic flavor to the mix, with a heavy, aquatic-like beat in the introduction that continues sporadically throughout the rest of the track. This album could hardly be considered heavy in electronics, but it does dabble in the genre enough to warrant recognition for its successful integration into Crossfade’s formula. Vocally, Ed Sloan wisely chooses to differentiate himself by singing low, moodily hummed melodies that dare I say evoke memories of Tool or, at the very least, Breaking Benjamin. As a result, many listeners will find themselves breathing a long-awaited sigh of relief and muttering, “finally, something that doesn’t sound like Chad Kroeger!” If you look at the most successful bands in Crossfade’s genre, they are the ones that have distinguishable vocalists as opposed to ones who mimic popular trends. With We All Bleed
, the band’s unique approach both instrumentally and vocally pays huge dividends.
Despite the clear signs of progression, Crossfade still falls back into the comfort zones of radio rock a little too frequently to call this album groundbreaking. For instance, even though the verse singing is distinguishable from that of Seether, Three Days Grace, and Nickelback, the choruses are all a little too samey. In some cases, Sloan even reverts back to his old ways and belches out roughly melodic choruses that sound uncannily similar to their aforementioned peers. ‘I Think You Should Know’ is a case in point, with a typical “ballad” song structure that builds to an utterly predictable chrorus from both a musical and lyrical standpoint. In fact, the lyrics are fairly pedestrian throughout all of We All Bleed
, which is just another staple of the stale radio rock scene that is inherently present here. Lines like “I think you should know how it feels falling down and out alone when no one cares” and “I think you should know how it feels when the world buries your soul and you're still alive” aren’t going to make believers out of anyone, although they are sung with enough conviction to at least give off the illusion that there is an emotional attachment present between the artist and the music. All things considered, though, the sub-par lyrics and occasional stumbles into overcooked genre ideas are forgivable when Crossfade presents us with such an interesting mini-evolution in their own sound.
We All Bleed
is something of a hodgepodge of ideas, and not all of them are winners. Certainly, the slow-burning “heaviness” suits them well, and seems like something that would serve them well in the future. On the other hand, the electronic effects, while intriguing in small doses, need some refining; and the lyrics and choruses still aren’t up to speed with the rest of Crossfade’s sound. But for the most part, the band has crafted an above average album full of chugging, murky little numbers that possess enough long lasting appeal to satisfy old and new fans alike. It is not the album that will revitalize modern radio rock, and chances are Crossfade isn’t even the band that will eventually accomplish that deed; but it is a positive step for the entire genre, and it also has the to potential to revive the musical careers of Crossfade’s members. We All Bleed
is truly a brand of radio rock that you won’t feel guilty for sinking your teeth into.