(Razor & Tie Records)
When one discusses the Metalcore genre, thoughts often turn to the most obvious of choices (i.e. All That Remains, Every Time I Die, Unearth) without considering any of the lesser-known--albeit highly-effective--alternatives. A prime example of such a group is Electronica/Dance Music-fueled Osaka, Japan-based quintet Crossfaith. Bursting onto the scene in 2008 via their debut demo Blueprint Of Reconstruction, they quickly capitalized on their initial success with the stunning The Artificial Theory For The Dramatic Beauty (2009) and the woefully-underrated The Dream, The Space (2011). Utilizing their intense hatred of Japanese Pop music culture (specifically the Kayōkyoku and Shōwa periods and their bastardized offspring J-Pop), the group soon amassed a uniquely dedicated international following. Finally poised to release Xeno, their latest and without a doubt greatest, full-length effort to date, the group now finds themselves on the verge of world-wide dominance.
On the brilliant Xeno (2015), an expertly assembled fifteen song collection of Electronica/Dance-infused Metalcore, each track, beginning with the truly delightful, swaggering “Raise Your Voice” and the maddeningly infectious first single “Devil's Party”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Often labeled as Electronicore due to their profound Electronica, Hardcore, Industrial Metal and Metalcore influences, the group offers the proverbial average listener a visceral sonic menagerie that is as ear-pleasing as it is uncompromisingly brutal. Wisely incorporating an array of clean vocals into their now-trademark tonalities (a much-welcomed factor that will undoubtedly increase the potential for crossover appeal), the group seethes with a contagious, intangible energy.
Continuing with the Caleb Shomo-punctutaed gem “Ghost In The Mirror” and the oft-scalding call-to-arms “Paint It Black”, the steadfast--to say the very least--combination of vocalist Kenta 'Ken' Koie, lead guitarist Kazuki Takemura, keyboardist/backing vocalist Terufumi Tamano, bassist Hiroki 'Hiro' Ikegawa and drummer Tatsuya Amano steamroll ahead like the well-oiled machine they so obviously have become. Channeling a seemingly unparalleled--and unnervingly sincere--level of aggression amid a refreshingly non-traditional lyrical and compositional approach, the group's multi-dimensional wares pulsate with an exceedingly frantic sense of urgency that seems to have escaped so many of their well-heeled peers. Flexing their more than considerable creative muscles early and often, the group drives home each key focal point with a seamless combination of scathing vocals, blistering fretwork and intensely punishing rhythms guaranteed to appeal to most Headbangers.
Produced by the acclaimed Josh Wilbur (Avenged Sevenfold, Lamb Of God, Hatebreed) and Mastered by the legendary Ted Jensen (As I Lay Dying, Korn, Megadeth) of Sterling Sound fame, other standouts, including the somber emotionally-charged lament “Calm The Storms” and the equally impressive closer “S.OS.”, only further showcases the group's dedication to expanding upon their already notoriously broad musical aspirations. Deeply rooted in manga and anime (as is the case with their masked French contemporaries Rise Of The Northstar), the group draws from their vast creative resources to create an intricate sonic landscape that depicts artificial intelligence, human desperation and the hypocrisy that defines society as a whole. Easily surpassing their venerable commercial breakthrough Apocalyze (2013) as well as the Zion EP (2012), the group ultimately succeeds by breathlessly delivering a previously-unparalleled musical hybrid that defies classification and logic.
So what's wrong? Absolutely nothing. In fact, at this point, I doubt anything could actually be improved upon. Although one might effectively argue that the majority--if not all--of the decidedly over-the-top wares contained herein are most definitely not for the faint of heart or weak of constitution (this is most definitely not the Metalcore of yesterday), the veritable wealth of Old School ferociousness and unabashed technical prowess intertwined throughout make the mighty Xeno and, as a result, the group itself nothing short of extraordinary. Seemingly intent on ushering in a new phase of musical culture, the group frequently finds itself operating amid a far higher level of creative consciousness. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a forthright, thought-provoking alternative to the cliché-ridden drivel that is so often force-fed en mass, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane万能薬 for what it is that ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Zion (EP) (2012)
The Dream, The Space (2011)
The Artificial Theory For The Dramatic Beauty (2009)
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