Confession time. Up until two days ago when my editor sent me this assignment I had never heard of Crossfaith. So yeah, for a band that has been kicking since 2006 and consistently on tour it took me until their fourth LP Xeno (Razor & Tie) to acknowledge their existence. I am the definition of timeliness.
Anyways, during my lunch break I browsed the web out of boredom and realized that Crossfaith’s sound has been described as renown for combining metalcore and electronic dance music. Naturally when reading that combination of genres the first thing that comes to mind is “I’ve died and gone to hell.” Immediate visions of laptopcore bands like The Browning and Blood on the Dance Floor flooded the brain. Fuck me.
But don’t knock it till you try it, or at least that’s what the girl as the grocery store seems to always tell me. Look at the bright side, Crossfaith is from Osaka, Japan and the land of the rising son has fostered plenty of eclectic and talented metal bands such as X-Japan, Dir en Grey, and Maximum the Hormone. Just press play.
You only get one chance to make a first impression and Crossfaith for the most part hits the mark. Instead of the Hot Topic goth dance party I was dreading the music on Xeno was actually listenable. Multifarious to a fault, but still listenable. Pretty good, actually. However if you are looking for some dance party action then check out ‘Wildfire’ (featuring Skindred’s Benji Webbe) and it’s unholy matrimony of EDM and Reggae. And I can say with no shame that I blasted it out loud in my car.
That being said the tunes here are more in line with Slipknot, mid-career Soilwork and even some Linkin Park for good measure. Frontman Kenta “Ken” Koie leans more on his singing voice on this effort and it helps elevate songs like ‘Raise Your Voice,’ ‘Devil’s Party’ and the excellent title track to radio rock anthem status. In addition to Koie’s strong performance, much attention should also be paid to drummer Tatsuya Amano’s frantic bursts of aggression and producer Josh Wilbur’s (Avenged Sevenfold, Lamb of God) masterful work behind the studio board.
The one moment on Xeno that lost me was power ballad ‘Tears Fall.’ It’s an excellent showcase for Koie’s pipes and it does feature a tuneful solo from guitarist Kazuki Takemura, but it’s way too sappy to fully take seriously. So much so that you could sell it for parts to Bullet for My Valentine. While that gamble doesn’t pay off, Crossfaith pick up the pace again with ‘Paint it Black’ and the drumming showcase that is ‘Vanguard.’ But before the album comes to a close these Osaka natives get a another chance to play with dynamics and texture on ‘Calm the Store’ a melodic track that is much more in line with the aforementioned Linkin Park or Dead Letter Circus.
I feel slightly less hesitant about the melding of electronics and metalcore. Slightly. You done good, Crossfaith.