Review Summary: Making a slightly different sonic shift, with all the same mistakes attached.
It must be a difficult position to be in when your band amalgamates two very distinct styles of music together. That lingering question of which way to present your music, and which influence or style will take a particular track, while trying to please all of your fan base. After all, these key styles are on either end of the spectrum, and if you tow the line a little too far you may end up with the same misfires found on 2013's Apocalyze
. Of course, even though their 2013 LP had some awkward moments, you have to take into account Crossfaith aren't really a band to be taken very seriously; their music is designed for you to have a good time, and that's one thing they've always managed to stay consistent with; bringing albums that, since Zion
, capture the energy that goes with their crazy live shows.
With that in mind, Xeno
is an album that still manages to follow suit on the heavy production and a mindset of writing 12 tracks purposely designed to let you have a bloody good time when you go and see one of their shows. However, the album doesn't push the band any further and Xeno
still suffers from the same mistakes Apocalypze
made. Firstly there is a slight shift in style, this time venturing off into a more metal terrain than the previous albums awkward mesh of dance and metal. But while this is a promising sign for the metalhead that wanted to do away with the dance elements found within the band, Xeno
isn't anywhere near as interesting because of it. Sure, electronic sections are still very much in the bands core sound, but they definitely take a backseat and tend to drone in the background rather than steal any spotlight.
What Crossfaith offer this time around is a narrow range of songs that touch on influences from the old NU-metal chugs of Slipknot to a more contemporary Motionless in White metal sound -- and speaking of Motionless in White, Ken's vocals have changed quite a bit since their last album. There is a distinct lack of his great screams this time out, showing what his vocal range is capable of; what I found off putting was his voice sounded eerily similar to Motionless in White front man, Chris -- to the point where I actually thought he was doing guest vocals in songs like "Xeno" and "Raise Your Voice".
As with Apocalypse
, this album also lacks focus: constant changes and ideas in songs leave tracks ranging from a stagnant metal sound to a cheesy build-up. It's also one of these dreaded albums where certain sections of songs are great, while other parts of tracks can be disposed of. There is a couple of guest spots from Beartooth's Caleb Shomo and Skindred's Benji Webbe: Caleb's contributions to "Ghost in the Mirror" don't really make the song sound excellent, but it's a solid track regardless and he adds a little spice to Crossfaith's regular sound. "Wildfire" however, is a truly terrible song and the only really bad track on the album; this song is bad on almost every level: from its terrible electronic samples to Benji's God awful babble, to Ken and Benji's lyrics. The lyrics on this LP aren't anything to write home about, but they look like Shakespeare next to this tracks cringe-induced waffle; and it has to be said that even though the album lacks any consistent tone, "Wildfire" is so out there it's amazing it made the album.
also tries desperately to be epic. Almost every song will try and fire out an epic build-up or a soaring melody, and this is something the band has always done, but this time around it all feels a little deflated and lacks any real emotion. The only time the band manage to pull it off is in the excellent experimental closing track, which not only pushes all the right buttons, but is the only track that actually moves the band out of their comfort zone.
won't set the world on fire, and won't break any ground, but it holds enough interest to warrant a couple of spins. For all the negatives surrounding the LP, Crossfaith bring just as many decent ideas and qualities to tracks; albeit an album that probably won't appeal to fans who like the electronic side of the band, due to its heavier influences. It's also hard to see a band try and make a different sounding record, but still end up having the same mistakes hindering them in different ways. But as stated earlier, this is a band that puts live shows first and the studio second. And when you see them play to a crowd, you'll get the bigger picture.