Crystal Lake
Helix


1.5
very poor

Review

by MarsKid USER (29 Reviews)
December 11th, 2018 | 78 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: When genres collide, seek a bunker.

Crystal Lake doesn’t know what kind of band they are. At least, that’s’ the impression that’s presented very openly in an incredibly scattered fifth album. Basically, picture that one self-centered prig from daycare when you were growing up that took all of the toys and wouldn’t share—that’s a decent description of what Helix appears to be. Before even beginning to mention the various factors that pollute this mix, something needs to be said: injecting rap in metal never works out. Whether this is due to some innate stylistic incompatibility or metal bands’ ineptitude at rapping successfully is open to debate; for those arguing the latter, take the decimated playroom before you as a sufficient example of when genre-blending goes quite wrong. Dropping their efforts into what many consider a black hole of inspiration—that being nu-metal, probably the most despised of the more divisive musical categories—equates to a product that seems dead on arrival. For each highlight that manages to break the surface, five or so faults sprout from the sonic landscape like hydra heads. Cut one down, five more act as replacements, and so on until the record morphs into a bunch of snakes swirling around in your eardrums. It’s not as pleasant as it may sound.

If Helix was (liberally) trimmed down to include only “Aeon,” “Agony,” and “Sanctuary,” there would be a disc worth discussing. As we are left with nine other tracks, such a salvation is out of reach, as is that action figure you wanted but is now being chewed to pieces by that one kid. The sound of teeth-on-plastic isn’t too removed from the aural experience offered by “+81,” or when the album begins its very sharp descent. Prior, the listener had a chance to rock out to the hardcore-esque introduction that is “Aeon,” hitting the ground running with a weighty riff that crushes down instantly; there is also the aforementioned “Agony,” which can be summarized as progressive metalcore’s answer to Parkway Drive—the end result being enjoyable, melodic leads and a memorable refrain. Then comes the inevitable rapping. Anyone concerned can rest assured that Crystal Lake indeed continue the trend of metal collectives forming ill-advised, occasionally laughable verses spat out with hip-hop braggadocio but lacking any of the skill to back it up. Lyrics are the standard bitches, booze, rise-up fare that would very quickly clear out any Bingo card of ‘Rap Tropes 101.’ Although “+81” leaves the foundation, it’s “Hail To The Fire” and accompanying instrumental “Ritual” that really build upon the shaky ground. Featuring abysmal rhymes at the forefront all delivered in that weird vocal spot between growls, shouts, singing, and just speaking, the song bounces on a stale nu-metal guitar part as the main instrumental driver. The barely 3-minute encounter is a chore to get through despite its brevity.

It’s hard to pick any worst offender when regarding the track list, since when Crystal Lake aren’t preoccupied spittin’ some serious fire (would the opposite be water"), they’re messing around with those other toys. “Lost In Forever” flexes a capable metalcore riff, but it sounds like a rehashed Gideon segment—go figure that two of their members are featured on the tune. “Outgrow” functions like some nu-metal, rap ballad hybrid, which works about as well as it reads. Then there is the techno-laden “Just Confusing,” which is exactly that. A key part of the creation involves a phone’s vibrating tone to break verses, if that’s any indication of value. Actually, the whole release is precisely a muddled pool of influences that just can’t fully commit to one, and the element receiving the most attention happens to be the absolute worst. Pick through the swarm and you can nab a rock callback here, a prog metalcore staple, a hip-hop cliché, plus more that erupt from the hydra infestation. The prime issue is not only a lack of consistency, but also an utter absence of tone, self-awareness, or a semblance of care to create a serviceable flow from one entry to the next. No performances are notable outside of those that can be traced to other bands that did it better. Hindsight being 20/20, perhaps all are better off letting that brat fiddle with those playthings after all—probably just discount-rack from K-Mart, anyways.



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user ratings (30)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
December 10th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

This just sort of happened. Tried to have some fun with this one because it wasn't very fun to listen to.



Was streaming on bandcamp for some time and has been out in Japan since late November.

Dewinged
December 11th 2018


13749 Comments


Counterpos'd. It seems that having Helix as an album title bounds you to great success.

First Amaranthe, now these guys. Gonna check it out of curiosity.

Digging: Two People - First Body

Daedus
December 11th 2018


189 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, these guys have no idea what they're doing. Aeon was a great track, but everything else was watered down genre samplers at best and watery diarrhea at worst. By the time 'Just Confusing' hit I was doing my best Jackie Chan WTF impression. I still think it's better than 1.5 based on the few tracks that work and their overall energy, but I largely agree with the sentiment.

Ebola
December 11th 2018


3453 Comments


Great review as always. Their last album was a mess

Uzumaki
December 11th 2018


327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

With all due respect here, I disagree. I thought the album flowed much better than True North and they struck an even keel with their songs. Yeah, rap doesn’t really belong here, but Ryo’s been doing it since their Cubes EP, so I guess you gotta take the bad with the good, you know? Review was still well writ, so pos’s for that my man.

Digging: Two People - First Body

Papa Universe
December 11th 2018


19200 Comments


crystal POS
And brace your but, butthurt fanboys and 5ers are incoming.

Digging: Two People - First Body

Papa Universe
December 11th 2018


19200 Comments


Gonna listen to this. But I warn you, I might enjoy it.

MarsKid
December 11th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Ghost negs have been after me recently, I love it.



Appreciate the positive vibes friends. Hate it when people can just click and don't have to say a word.

tyman128
December 11th 2018


1204 Comments


well, I enjoyed Aeon quite a bit (actually listening to it right now haha), but this review is making me think twice about check this out... eh, I’ll check it out at some point I’m sure. Since I don’t really keep up with streams or leaks or whatever, where can I check this album out?
Great review tho, pos

Digging: Mark Deutrom - The Blue Bird

MarsKid
December 11th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

They had it available on bandcamp but took it down. I believe streaming on other services (ex. Spotify) will be within the next week or so. It's a hard puppy to track down.

tyman128
December 11th 2018


1204 Comments


dang, I found it on Apple Music but it’s not expected to be out till 2019, guess I’ll be waiting till then :]

MarsKid
December 11th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Weird. This release schedule is really screwing with me lol.

Uzumaki
December 11th 2018


327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It’s out in Japan, and they signed with Sharptone Records, who will release it in February, so short of finding and downloading, it probably will be hard to stream.

Hellscythe
December 11th 2018


3177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"They had it available on bandcamp but took it down"

that was sort of my doing actually. I asked the band about that Bandcamp page and they said it wasn't legit, so I reported it to Bandcamp directly and they looked into it and determined the same thing and deleted it.

MarsKid
December 11th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Oh okay. Well good on you for doing that. Where has everyone else been hearing it?

Hellscythe
December 11th 2018


3177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

there's downloads a-plenty out there

MarsKid
December 11th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Haha fair enough. Hard to keep that lid tight nowadays.

Hellscythe
December 11th 2018


3177 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

if you like the band it's also hard not to just download it considering the absurd release schedule they've got going on. no NA release until February? I may as well pre-order it and then download a rip of the Japanese release to listen to in the meantime.



I disagree with the review obvs, but it's still a good one btw. pos'd

MarsKid
December 11th 2018


8287 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Appreciate the support, thank you very much!

Uzumaki
December 11th 2018


327 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ashamed to say it, but yeah, I downloaded to listen. I'll still support them by buying a physical release though.



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