Crown the Empire
Retrograde


4.5
superb

Review

by Shamus248 USER (65 Reviews)
July 24th, 2016 | 65 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Crown the Empire return and produce the best metalcore record of the last decade plus.

Dallas, TX metalcore quintet Crown the Empire has enjoyed both critical and commercial success the likes of which is often very bereft of most metalcore bands, especially those signed to Rise Records. They have boasted many strong suits, all of which have been evident since their genesis in 2010. Their dual lead dichotomy of Andy Leo and David Escamilla rivals just about any core group with a similar makeup. Known for the screamed verses, catchy sung choruses, high production value and arguably most notably - the story like theatrics that accompany both their live shows and their music videos. Saying goodbye to the concept works that were The Fallout and The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways, as well as former lead guitarist Benn Suede, Crown the Empire gives you Retrograde, which is easily the best album of the group's still young career as well as the best metalcore record I personally have ever heard.

You could blame it on preexisting bias, seeing as Crown the Empire has been a favorite of mine; they are even the band responsible for me even liking metalcore, an otherwise generic and derivative genre. But I am genuinely blown away by how the group exceeded the expectations of detractors and fans alike. They've really honed their craft over the last two years; The Resistance was a great album, but it definitely felt like the group was just trying to please the fans who marveled at the paradigm theatrics of The Fallout. Crown the Empire has left all of that behind (the Johnny trilogy did not continue into this record) and this display of cunning ambition pays off in every way. Gone is the group that used dubstep on their first album and relied on the catchy choruses on their second. The new Crown the Empire is a group showing all the balance and experience needed to churn out a masterpiece.

Opening track "Sk-68" is a soft piano respite that transitions into the real opening track, "Are You Coming with Me." The album is a full speed ahead affair from the opening seconds; the chorus on the song features plenty of lead guitar from Brandon Hoover, plenty of audible bass from Hayden Tree, and Brent Taddie's fast paced drumming moves the chorus along. And then, of course, we have the highlight of the record as a whole - Andy and Dave's co-existence behind the microphone. I'd be pressed to find another pair of vocalists that perform as well together as Leo and Escamilla do. Escamilla has improved infinitely as a clean vocalist, and it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say he's better than Andy. The group as a whole do a great job coinciding and sharing their own moments under the sun. Their continuity is essentially unparalleled.

"Zero" is arguably the best song of the group's career thus far; alebit, the track follows a familiar Crown the Empire blueprint - screamed verse, sung chorus, repeat. But it doesn't feel stale like previous releases. Escamilla joins Leo for the choruses and the two of them are just on another level vocally. "Hologram" showcases how great a clean vocalist Escamilla has become, and longtime fans will be happy to know the uncleans haven't gone away with Retrograde. The lyrics have also seen a significant touch up from past discography, particularly on the track "Aftermath" (Show with no mercy./Cause it cannot hurt me./The moment I bite my tongue./Tired of worthless fighting with purpose./No longer I will stay numb.)

Tracks like "Weight of the World" boast a lot of singalong value, so much in fact it will have familiar fans reaching for the replay button again and again. "The Fear is Real" is a rhythmic instrumental dance beat that will catch listeners from all sides very off guard; the longest transitional track that I think I've ever heard from a core group. Where "Weight of the World" touched base on the type of radio rock you saw from "Millennia" and "Second Thoughts" on the last album, you see some alternative and even poppier stylings on tracks like "Lucky Us" and "Signs of Life", the former of which sees a lot of uncleans from Escamilla, the latter of which sees none at all. The album throughout features an atmospheric space styling, a styling that is carefully placed in increments; kudos to the group for not letting that theme hijack the entire album, it makes for a very cohesive record.

Closing tracks "Oxygen" and "Kaleidoscope" particularly utilize the more atmospheric moments of Retrograde. The latter track features one of best Crown choruses yet, Leo and Escamilla both giving the best vocal performances of their careers, and with that, Retrograde draws to a close. This record is nothing short of incredible, is easily the album of the year so far, by my estimation at least. The real Crown the Empire has finally arrived, making the music they want to make. Even hardcore fans of the concept theatrics of their last two albums are sure to fall in love with this latest consummation. Cheers to the best group in metalcore making the best metalcore album, quite possibly, of all time.



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user ratings (132)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
LiftASail (3.5)
A potential legacy thrown away, left forever with questions of "what if" and "what could have been?"...

sempiturtle (4)
“Brave the fear in the your mind, walk into the afterlight"...



Comments:Add a Comment 
sempiturtle
July 24th 2016


1276 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Your review is better than mine, pos'd. But there's one sentence in the middle where I'm pretty sure you meant to say "Hologram showcases how great a clean vocalist DAVE has become" and you forgot to put his name in there. Also you accidentally said Retrogram instead of Retrograde in the same sentence.



Also the two Target "exclusive" tracks are meant to be part of the album, and Mercury is the intended closer, so if you haven't checked them out I recommend you do.

Digging: I the Mighty - Connector

Shamus248
July 24th 2016


331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fixed the errors, I've heard the exclusive tracks, but i figured i'd just review the regular retail copy.

FearThyEvil
July 24th 2016


15385 Comments


hahaha sure

SteakByrnes
July 24th 2016


5859 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I very much disagree with that summary, but good review nonetheless

AsleepInTheBack
July 24th 2016


5346 Comments


Thats quite a bold statement in your summary, not sure you entirely justify it, but still well written, pos'd

SnakeDelilah
July 24th 2016


20138 Comments


produce the best metalcore record of the last decade plus.


lol no

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - POST-

SteakByrnes
July 24th 2016


5859 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Especially with bands like Misery Signals existing, I just can't even acknowledge a debate on the topic

Shamus248
July 24th 2016


331 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wouldn't expect anyone to agree with that statement, seeing as metalcore is more or less an unpopular genre on this site (at least based off what I see)

Intothepit
July 24th 2016


3404 Comments


The fact that is is an unpopular genre doesn't have anything to do with your asinine opinion.

brettgoespunk
July 25th 2016


228 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I very much disagree. This album is NOT metalcore in the slightest really besides Zero. There is so much better in the past 6 years, including their other two albums.

sempiturtle
July 25th 2016


1276 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah this is a good album but it's definitely not metalcore.

Snide
July 25th 2016


7050 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Literally the only things close to Metalcore on this are Zero and Lucky For Us

AmbushReality
July 25th 2016


40 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

FWIW, here's my review of this record: http://www.flippenmusic.com/review-crown-empire-retrpgrade/



I didn't care for this record at all, save for Zero and Hologram. And "best metalcore record of all time?" There are two metalcore tracks on this album, and even then this isn't even in the same league as their first two records.

RosaParks
July 25th 2016


443 Comments


Crown the Empire return and produce the best metalcore record of the last decade plus.

NastyCrab
July 25th 2016


734 Comments


[2]

BurnedBlack606
July 25th 2016


509 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

WOW. Good review, but WOW

LoLifant
July 25th 2016


1296 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Wouldn't call this album metalcore but nevertheless it's quite good. Ignored these guys for a long time and don't really know about their older albums (guess it was typical scenecore?) but they got my attention with this one.

sentyrunce
July 26th 2016


14 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listened to the first four tracks off of this and didn't like it as much as their previous work. It's just missing something, and I don't know what it is. Will definitely finish listening to it later as I have enjoyed everything else they've put out thus far. Maybe it'll click later. Good review, though I definitely disagree with the summary. That's a very bold statement for something that barely even qualifies as metalcore

Scoot
July 26th 2016


18790 Comments


just a tad hyperbole

SweeneyTodd
July 26th 2016


1528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Album is closer to space-rock than metalcore, still decent review. Anyone else think Are You Coming with Me? sounds like Thirty Seconds to Mars self titled stuff?

Digging: Porches. - The House



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