Since the very beginning of their career, Crossfaith have been best known for their adrenaline fuelled live shows. With fifth studio album ‘Ex Machina’, they’re one step closer to capturing that energy on record, hitting us with a full-throttle dance-metal odyssey that weaves deftly between both extremes and covers all ground in-between.
Nominally a concept album set in a cyberpunk dystopia, we kick off with a brief spoken intro before being thrown headfirst into ‘Catastrophe’, a hard and heavy banger with plenty of bounce that comes straight out of the usual Crossfaith mould.
Whilst the record starts off in typical fashion, and doubles down on the speed and heaviness with the crunchy, low-end driven ‘A Perfect Nightmare’, it soon becomes clear that it has a few more strings to its bow. Bringing the star power with a pair of cameos from ho99o9 (pronounced “horror”) and the instantly recognisable Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari proves to be an invigorating change of pace, bringing in some new elements into the album’s mix.
The ride continues with the band tackling cleaner vocals and massive choruses on the likes of the ‘Make A Move’ and seemingly arena-ready ‘Lost In You’, a one-two punch that will leave you hard pressed to decide whether to dance or head bang.
Whilst Crossfaith seem unlikely to ever lower their BPM enough to write anything that could realistically be called a ballad, they haven’t been able to resist the temptation to slow things down just a little bit during the tail-end of ‘Ex Machina’. ‘Milestone’ isn’t likely to cause many tears to be shed, but it does have a more emotional core, and its liberal usage of metalcore staple gang vocals and whoas is satisfying if a tad self-indulgent.
The album concludes with a play for the grandiose. ‘Daybreak’ throws symphonics and choral elements into the mix alongside the customary electronics and the harshest vocals yet, bringing us home on a definite high.
In fact, the standout moments on the record invariably occur on tracks like this where the band dare to blend all of their influences together in equal parts rather than distinctly favouring one over the other. In this respect, Crossfaith have really honed their compositional skills; the transitions between the heavy and harsh verses and the big dance choruses are smoother and more fluid then ever before.
With ‘Ex Machina’, Crossfaith have effectively combined the punch and power of their critically acclaimed ‘Zion’ EP era with the more expansive, chorus orientated songwriting of the more maligned ‘Xeno’.