Review Summary: They're going to need a Deus Ex Machina to survive this album's problems.
If the past year has proven anything about Crossfaith, it’s that they’re lost. They’ve always been very open to experimentation, but the last two EPs hit with such polarizing results it left me at a complete loss on what to expect next. So, let’s cut to the chase; Freedom
is a sloppy mix of EDM and metalcore, made worse by its awareness for the fashionable tropes in metal at the minute. It was a startling shock to the systems, to go from the enjoyably flawed albums of Apocalyze
to the blatantly desperate and egregious songwriting of Freedom
. It mixed peculiar ideas with genres but put no effort into ensuring these stark tones worked in harmony. Basically, it was a mess by all accounts and I nearly wrote them off because of it. But then they come back 6 months later with a focused, back to basics EP that resurrected the hallmarks of what made Crossfaith so enjoyable to begin with, leaving me to question if the game was really up or not.
The ambivalence I felt leading up to this saw me entering the pitch darkness with nothing but apprehension, now aware it could go either way at a moment’s notice. And, you know, with the exception of the incredibly corny “Deus Ex Machina” – a failed attempt at delivering a grandiose introduction with its generic dance beats and badly performed narrator, whose voice sounds like it came from the Time Crisis
arcade machines – the first quarter of Ex_Machina
sets off half-focused and somewhat promising. Sure, Kenta’s haphazard cleans on “Catastrophe” persist in shattering any able vibes, while “Destroy” holds the same kind of risked pleasantries dunking a biscuit into your cup of tea can have; providing a rudimentary metalcore riff and variant screams it gets everything off to a good start, but the moment H09909 enters the fray it turns into that dire situation where the dipped end of your biscuit breaks away into the bottom of your cup, souring the entire experience. Still, in terms of what’s to come these songs hold a couple of redeeming qualities, while “The Perfect Nightmare” – the strongest number here – offers up a nice chaotic homage to Slipknot’s earlier works.
It’s ironic then, that we have to get to “Freedom” for the album to completely fall apart. The rest of the record is a hodgepodge of broken ideas being stitched together. Like the writing for Freedom
regards consistency, tone and mood as dirty words. The only consistency to be found here is in the numerous archaic and cheesy ideas plaguing songs. I found myself grimacing constantly at the amount of terribly thought out and dated stylistic choices. “Make A Move” is one of the most obnoxious tracks here, opening with Kenta crooning “make a move”
in a robotic voice that sounds as though Crossfaith is trapped in the late 90s NU-metal era. The horror endures with a progression of comically out of place funk grooves, high-frequency electronics zipping up and down and Kenta spitting out a painfully rigid rap verse – not forgetting the stapled, characterless clean chorus that accommodates this abomination. The album has a delusional handling on its ideas, but its difficulty in digesting them primarily stems from its pick of common denominator tropes that were hated as far back as when they were first conceived. It’s made that much worse when apathy takes hold and it turns into a lazy exercise of forcing these horrible sounds together, regardless of whether they work together or not.
I mean, you’d think it couldn’t get much worse but when you get to “Lost In You” or “Milestone” you realise just how low these guys are setting the bar: the former being one of the worst pop-punk renditions I’ve ever heard, made completely disagreeable with Kenta’s iffy diction and pronunciations, resulting in a laughing act; while the latter falls into your piss-poor, cookie-cutter post-hardcore territories – the type of soppy, glittery soundscapes contemporary metal acts have been dipping into for a while now. Truthfully, things don’t get any better: the halfway mark is a point of no return, shifting from its “electronicore” roots to subject the listener to all manner of badly administrated fads and previous successes. When I reviewed the Wipeout
EP I was put into thinking they could come back from Freedom
, and that it was just a colossal misfire, but it seems Crossfaith took their chances and made an unimaginably dreadful follow-up. This is debatably the worst metal album of the year. It has the attention span of a goldfish, constantly shifting from one awful idea to the next, but it also lacks the skill to implement these newer ideas into feeling earned and natural, making it a detriment to the core sound that actually works. If this is the sound of the future, we’ve all got serious problems.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: http://crossfaith.jp/overseas/