You've got your generic metalcore bands, and then there's Crossfaith. For a non-fan but a scene enthusiast in general, you've probably heard about this Japanese outfit as a standout from the pack. As a fan, you've probably raved about them. New record 'Xeno' firmly affirms the position that Crossfaith have forged for themselves in the scene; not completely divorced, but not par for the course. With a cover that looks like it stole the font from Tron, it comes as no surprise that the band has continued to experiment with an electro-core sound. It's that signature, which somehow manages to be pulled off without becoming cringeworthy, that sets this album on fire.
Speaking of movies, intro ‘System X’ could easily fit on a score with its intricate climb that starts traditional and by the end, succumbs to glowstick electronica. Titular track ‘Xeno’ also fuses traditional instrumentals with EDM tinges, but this song has a damaging metallic punch, especially in the way the vocals are projected but also in the metalcore techniques embedded in it. The pace of ‘Devil’s Party’ hardly contends with the rapidity of ‘Wildfire’, which features the familiar input of Benji from Skindred. Edgier than a dodecahedron but also incredibly peculiar, this one’s hard to sit still to, but it’s also hard to contain the question of whether Crossfaith are going for rave with their pleasantly erratic sampling or raving mad.
The electronic component of this record is not the only one worth talking about. The way that these songs are crafted has to be appreciated. ‘Dystopia’ is a thoughtful and simultaneously chaotic track, with an uncaring yet disruptive projection that implies this planned chaos. For a little more of that, see ‘Ghost In The Mirror’. Just a heads up, if you think it sounds like Beartooth, that’s because it does, with the appearance of frontman Caleb Shomo elevating it to enormity. And yet, there’s a flipside to the perfect pandemonium, as breakup lament ‘Tears Fall’ (contrary to what Bullet For My Valentine are having you think) offers a contrast of a part radio rock and part emotionally unstable experience. In fact, the whole LP speaks of emotional turmoil and triumph, as Crossfaith bring their thematic innovation along for the ride.
The other thought that pops up upon listening to this album is how well these songs would translate to a live context. ‘Raise Your Voice’ slots in gang vocals that import dreams of mosh pits into your psyche, while ‘Paint It Black’ acts as a more explicit rally call for anyone wearing mosh shorts in the hearing vicinity.
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This album is what we expected from Crossfaith, but that doesn’t mean it’s not every damn bit as enjoyable as what it would be if it wasn’t. There are few bands who can wear electronic metalcore like Crossfaith do, and even fewer who can maintain their success in driving the genre, be it through their thematic genius or their experimental ingenuity. It sounds like an awkward concept: a metallic J-rocky offering that rides out waves of electronica in its playback. But it works, and if listening to ‘Xeno’ doesn’t convince you, we’ll be damned.
1. System X
3. Raise Your Voice
4. Devil's Party
5. Ghost In The Mirror (feat. Caleb Shomo)
7. Wildfire (feat. Benji Webbe)
8. Tears Fall
9. Paint It Black
11. Calm The Storm
12. Astral Heaven