The notion of lacing rock and metal with electronic elements is a common one today. Bands from world beaters like The Prodigy down to any number of outfits playing tiny venues in the local area mix the two. But every now and again someone comes along who takes it to a new level. Enter Crossfaith. The finest electro-metal band in Japan. Scrap that, in the world. Their ‘Zion EP’ was a glorious affair, five tracks of jaw dropping quality. In ‘Apocalyze’, they have honed their craft and produced a brilliant release.
A short prelude serves its purpose, before first single ‘We Are The Future’ sets the marker down for the rest of the album. It’s big, heavy and most importantly, the electronic lines offer something. They’re not just along for the ride, or used unnecessarily, they take the songs on ‘Apocalyze’ to another level. A head down, furious charge through riffs, choruses and a dubstep drop and ‘Hounds Of Apocalypse’ keeps things moving nicely.
Two of the album’s strongest tracks, ‘Eclipse’ and ‘The Evolution’, arrive back to back. The first is more dance baced, led by a synth line that will conjure joyous carnage in the live environment. ‘The Evolution’ flips in the other direction entirely. Beginning with a pronounced stomp and a gang-vocal shout, it develops into the biggest, most glorious melding of dubstep and nu-metal to date.
If the first half of ‘Apocalyze’ served as down the line and hard hitting, the second offers a little experimentation. ‘Gala Hala (Burn Down The Floor)’ offers a change of pace, an offbeat and turntable led number. ‘Countdown To Hell’, however, is easily the album’s heaviest track, a finger-shredding riff given space to drive the song forward, before vocalist Ken’s call to arms of ‘RISE!’ provides another fist pumping, head banging moment.
In many ways this, and the stark contrast it provides to the more electro-heavy ‘Scarlett’ or ‘Counting Stars’, displays Crossfaith‘s strength. Strip the electronic elements from ‘Apocalyze’ and you’d have a great metal album. Take out the metal, and the dance record you’d be left with would stand up on its own.
Final track ‘Only The Wise Can Control Our Eyes’, offers a final turn to something new. A frantic charge compounded with a chorus that sees clean singing from Ken, a rarity on ‘Apocalyze’. When the album closes with another electronic-laced beatdown, there’s a void left, something only filled by hearing the prelude once more.
Cynics will raise questions over whether Crossfaith offer more style than substance, but the songwriting in ‘Apocalyze’ should go some way to sate that. While some will bemoan its immediacy, or its sledgehammer subtlety, others will revel in it. Make no bones about it, this record is immense fun.
Crossfaith burst into the UK consciousness with incendiary live performances at Hit The Deck Festival, and on tour with While She Sleeps almost exactly a year ago. The ‘Zion EP’ followed, setting a marker down for what they’re capable of and with ‘Apocalyze’, they have proven their pedigree and status as one of the hottest properties in heavy music. They’re back in February on tour with Limp Bizkit. Don’t miss it.
Review by: Dave Straw