Crown the Empire
Retrograde


4.0
excellent

Review

by sempiturtle USER (3 Reviews)
July 23rd, 2016 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “Brave the fear in the your mind, walk into the afterlight"

If there’s one thing that can be said about Crown the Empire, it’s that they sure do have ambition. Since their creation in 2010, the Dallas-based group have never had trouble pushing their limits as a band, as evidenced by their first two albums, The Fallout and The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways. Both concept albums, they encompass one singular story laden with excessive theatrics, huge catchy choruses and massive string arrangements; no small task for a new band with members just entering their 20s. These albums were no strangers to success either, with the latter landing the #1 spot on iTunes and a top 10 spot on the Billboard. However, despite their early success it became clear that Crown the Empire weren’t fully satisfied with the work they’d previously put out. The Resistance was a result of the band feeling trapped by fans who expected a continuation of not only the overblown story, but also the “risecore” sound of The Fallout; and while it succeeded in satisfying those fans, the album felt noticeably forced and unnatural, and not representative of the music that Crown the Empire wished to make. When the time came to record their third album, the band decided to scrap the concept of their previous records entirely, burn it to the ground and start from scratch. Out of the ashes of this reinvention comes Retrograde.

While Retrograde definitely marks a turning point for CTE, elements of their old sound still remain. In ‘Lucky Us’ the band is as heavy as they’ve ever been, with co-vocalists David Escamilla and Andy Velasquez’ back and forth singing/screaming meshing together perfectly. Standout tracks ‘Hologram’ and ‘Aftermath’ contain the best choruses this band have ever written, showing that they still have a penchant for mixing heavy moments with catchy and powerful hooks. Meanwhile, lead single ‘Zero’ sounds like a more mature and refined version of the band’s older work. In fact, most of the first half of the record would not sound out of place on The Resistance. The theatrics that Crown is known for also remain, albeit more toned back, allowing for the ambitious theatrical elements to still be present without suffocating the actual music. Retrograde also sees CTE explore a new “space” theme, with cues being taken from films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Interstellar, rather than the 1984 and Brave New World influence seen on their previous albums. This theme of space and exploration of the unknown is fitting for the band’s new sound, and feels far more natural than any of their previous discography.

Plenty of experimentation can also be found within the latter half of Retrograde. The alt-rock style of ‘Signs of Life’ and ‘Kaleidoscope’ is not dissimilar to bands such as Thirty Seconds to Mars, with Escamilla dropping his trademark screams entirely, instead using his much improved singing voice to perfectly complement Velasquez. The arena-ready ‘Weight of the World’ is the group’s take on pop rock, and they keep it interesting with swing influenced verses and a massive sing-along chorus. Album closer ‘Mercury’ is a perfect showcase of the band’s new sound, standing as the most interesting and possibly best track on the record. The song is pushed forward by a powerful riff from bassist Hayden Tree, and also contains yet another fantastic chorus, with just enough heaviness to end the album on a powerful note. Retrograde’s most glaring misstep comes in the form of the stripped back ‘Oxygen’, with a disappointing hook and overdone vocal effects that are more distracting than appealing. Songs such as ‘For Days’ and the aforementioned ‘Signs of Life’ are far better at showing off the softer side of Crown. Despite this, Retrograde as a whole still achieves its purpose as a successful reinvention of the band’s sound. The album keeps the best elements of their older music intact, while cutting out the unnecessary bells and whistles and introducing plenty of brand new ideas. With Retrograde, the band have made one thing clear; Love it or hate it, this is the true Crown the Empire, and they don’t plan on leaving any time soon.


user ratings (149)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
Shamus248 (4.5)
Crown the Empire return and produce the best metalcore record of the last decade plus....

LiftASail (3.5)
A potential legacy thrown away, left forever with questions of "what if" and "what could have been?"...



Comments:Add a Comment 
sempiturtle
July 23rd 2016


1514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is my first ever attempt at reviewing anything, so I hope it's alright. Constructive criticism is obviously welcomed and appreciated.



On a side note, that album art is fantastic.

Sinternet
July 23rd 2016


17498 Comments


pretty great first review, if anything i'd say you spend a bit too long talking about their past albums when you could say more about this release, but prettyy decent :^)

I used to dig Limitless when I used to be into this stuff but not my thing anymore, love the artwork though

Digging: Pool Kids - Music to Practice Safe Sex To

LotusFlower
July 23rd 2016


12001 Comments


I thought The Resistance was decent, but they jumped that weird 2008 electronic hard rock sound.

sempiturtle
July 23rd 2016


1514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Sinternet



Thanks for the feedback! I was also thinking that I might've talked about their old stuff too much. But the overarching theme of this album is that the band weren't completely happy with their older stuff and wanted to "turn a new leaf", so I wanted to make that clear in my review.

Toondude10
July 23rd 2016


13373 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

boring af album, maybe two good songs on here but the rest of this was just dull

Digging: Time, The Valuator - How Fleeting, How Fragile

Hellscythe
July 23rd 2016


2951 Comments


art reminds me of a blue version of Thursday's No Devolución cover

not gonna bother with this album though

ConcubinaryCode
July 23rd 2016


4386 Comments


"art reminds me of a blue version of Thursday's No Devolución cover"

This. It almost makes me wanna give this a listen.


LukeHannan
July 23rd 2016


9 Comments


@ConcubinaryCode

Ugh. Don't expect anything remotely as good.

SteakByrnes
July 24th 2016


13498 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I couldn't get into this too much to be honest. I'm a huge fan of Dave's screams, they have a lot of power behind them, and not hearing them for most of the album disappointed me.

Digging: Joji - Ballads 1

Snide
July 24th 2016


7050 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I fucking love these guys.

This is hands down probably the most disappointing album of the year for me, with Mayday Parade's Black Lines being a close second.

sempiturtle
July 24th 2016


1514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I swear Black Lines came out like a year ago, didn't it? I'm also surprised you don't like this, since you liked That's the Spirit and Dark Matter which are pretty similar imo, especially Dark Matter.



Also on a side note if you guys could pos/neg this review that'd be great. Just wanna know if its any good or not. And if you do neg it please tell me why!



Snide
July 24th 2016


7050 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I pos'd it because it's pretty well written.

Even though we very heavily disagree on the album; don't mind the ghost negs, they're going to come out of nowhere since you reviewed this out of all albums as your first.

AsleepInTheBack
July 24th 2016


5871 Comments


Arguably the structure is a bit off. Your commentary is a little all over the place, although you do communicate your views really eloquently. Reconfiguring what you said in paras 2 and 3 into different paras with certain themes (the good, the different, the bad, or something on those lines) may have helped, but thats just me.

I like the useful history in para 1, though it could arguably be more concise.

Overall though a great review, pos'd

"On a side note, that album art is fantastic." [2]


Shamus248
July 24th 2016


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review, i love this album

erizen826
July 24th 2016


855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wish this was on Spotify so I can decide if I wanna buy it or not.

AmbushReality
July 25th 2016


44 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

TWA's Dark Matter crushes this. Despite both bands going full on radio rock, at least TWA kept the music interesting. This is boring, bland pop rock start to finish and one of the most disappointing releases of the year.



That said, your review is well written.



PS, here's mine if anyone wants to read it... http://www.flippenmusic.com/review-crown-empire-retrpgrade/

sempiturtle
July 25th 2016


1514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Interesting that you gave the album a 5/10 on your review but a 1.5 here. Also I find it weird that you said they didn't have long to work together on this album, because they only had 1 month for The Fallout, 2 months for The Resistance, and actually had 5-6 months for Retrograde. One of the main points they've made in interviews is how refreshing it was to actually have time to make a proper album.



Still, your review was really well written as well.

AmbushReality
July 26th 2016


44 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

^I initially had it as a 2.5 (5/10) here as well, but recently changed it after a few more listens. Just really don't like it and can't go back and change that rating now lol.



Interesting point about the time though, I didn't know they were free for that long. I seem to remember them literally touring constantly, including supporting Hollywood Undead for two months during the period I thought they were recording. But that doesn't really matter.



SweeneyTodd
September 8th 2016


1722 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Still think this is solid space rock. Whilst it still holds room for improvement, the new sound fits the band like a glove. Shows a lot of potential, excited to see what they do next

Digging: Tangerine Dream - Tangram

Toondude10
September 8th 2016


13373 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

this isn't even close to space rock so idk wtf your talking about



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