Review Summary: Cut, yet adored.
One of the reasons I love the genre of alternative metal is its ability to blend the glaringly heavy with the beautifully melodic. It’s able to blend the happier tone of pop with the darker edge of rock for a (sometimes) fantastic, cathartic combination. Most people give it crap because it’s played on the radio and not some obscure corner of Bandcamp or Soundcloud, but the genre truly does have some positives to offer. It isn’t perfect, though, and does require some carving out before you find the perfect crafting of the genre. Indeed, in the right hands, alternative metal can be an extremely powerful force, helping to honestly yet hopefully exorcise the demons we all must face. Is Crossfade able to do this, you ask"
Firstly, the production here is absolutely wonderful. It’s polished and clear, yet still retains the rough edge that heavy rock always should. Next, this does contain the tenants of the genre: melodic/gruff vocals, heavy/clean guitar, dark/light lyrics and soundscapes, all is present here. The album alternates between full-force heavy tracks, slightly restrained mid-tempo tracks, and two ballads. Lyrically, the album predominantly focuses upon dealing with inner demons and broken relationships, from the self-diagnosing opener “Starless” to the defensive “Death Trend Setta” to the haunting closure in “The Unknown”. It’s not as impactful of a journey as a RED or Chevelle record, but it does the job well enough and does make the record more emotionally engaging. At the same time, the songs themselves are, in a sense, their own microcosm dealing with the shift of darkness and light in all of our lives, though not all stand as well as they could.
Take “Starless”, which is predominantly extremely promising. Heavy guitar riff, strong vocals, strangely creative lyrics, and then there’s this poorly executed rap in the bridge that throws the whole feel of the song off. Something similar happens in “Death Trend Setta”: it’s another strong heavy track with fantastic guitar riffs and deliciously angry vocals, but it’s wrecked by the lyrics (what is a “Death Trend Setta”") These are two out of three of the full-force, metal-leaning tracks, and while not terrible, they can make the record an awkward listen. However, “Disco” is the third, and its bleak satire of the party scene is a real treat, while musically it is more than solid. All five of the mid-tempo rockers (including radio single and calling card “Cold”) are extremely strong, packing powerful choruses, excellent guitar work, and a serious emotional payoff. “The Deep End” deserves mention for having some of the best lyrics all record.
As opposed to the full-on heavy songs, which are at least partially done correctly, both ballads are absolutely horrendous. First, Ed sings with his worst Scott Stapp impression here, the lyrics are fairly cliched, and the guitar work is the same chords you would expect for this type of genre’s ballads. It’s very “meat-and-potatoes” rock, when the rest of this album clearly shows a desire to rise above that, intended or not.
If you like alternative metal, this is worth at least a listen or two. It isn’t quite as emotionally or musically complex as the genre’s stalwarts, but it is fairly entertaining and packs a decent punch.
Recommended Tracks: “Cold”, “So Far Away”, “Colors”, “The Deep End”, “No Giving Up Now”, “Disco”
Maybes: “Starless, Death Trend Setta”
My Ranking: 7/10 (Six points (one point each) for recommended, half points (one point total) for maybes)
Sputnik Ranking: 3.5/5