It doesn’t seem five minutes Crossfaith delivered their third album, ‘Apocalyze’ yet somehow that record is now two years old. However through a barrage of touring and festival appearances, including a main stage spot at last year’s Reading and Leeds Festival, Crossfaith have firmly been in our conscious for best part of two years. Now they’re back with album number four – ‘Xeno’.
For those unfamiliar with Crossfaith, their style is one that incorporates metalcore with electro elements. Sure it’s a road many have taken before them but unfortunately Crossfaith’s use of the latter somewhat spoils what is an okay metalcore record.
I say its “okay” because for the most part ‘Xeno’ lacks in a variety of areas. Songwriting isn’t their forte as at times it is overly simple. For example their collaboration with Skindred, ‘Wildfire’, is, to be blunt, dreadful. EDM beeps, Balearic beats and a chorus containing the line of, “Scream out loud we are the wildfire / We burn and we burn / Join our ride we are the wildfire / We dance in the flame” make up for a concoction of horrible “party metal” before Skindred’s Benji Webbe adds more woe with, “Are you ready for the burn before the buzz?” Enough said. Definitely the album’s low point, whilst ‘Tears Fall’ is your run-of-the-mill metalcore power ballad with the predictable anthemic chorus. Yuck.
Throughout the use of quirky synths are an unwanted distraction and gives the whole album a far too slick touch to the production. ‘Paint It Black’ contains some dense guitars with a favourable chorus but the underlying synth adds an unwanted rush to the track. When combined with their poor songwriting, ‘Xeno’ comes off as dumbed-down and is simply aimed at an audience who want their fix of metal and dance in one full swoop; formulaic and not over complicated.
However for all its pitfalls, ‘Xeno’ does offer a smattering of positives. ‘Ghost In The Mirror’ (featuring Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo) kickstarts the album with an almighty mosh-worthy punch, ‘Raise Your Voice’ delivers some monstrous, chunky guitars and the title track highlights the band’s winning formula of abrasive verse with a swinging, melodic chorus with impressive instrumentation.
Nevertheless, by the time you approach the end of the album with ‘Vanguard’ and ‘Calm Before the Storm,’ it’s clear that aforementioned formula has become tiresome and the end can’t come soon enough. And when the end does come, you have to grit your teeth to the sound of an electro-heavy instrumental that is simply pointless.
For all their achievements in recent years, ‘Xeno’ is a step backwards for Crossfaith. It’s an album that is hindered by overtly slick production and simplistic songwriting. However Crossfaith have the ability to produce a frantic and compelling live show to fall back on. It’s this saving grace that will help Crossfaith win fans over with some of ‘Xeno’ poorest moments.
‘Xeno’ by Crossfaith is out now on UNFD.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)
About Sêan Reid
Sêan Reid is the Senior Editor and Founder of Already Heard. He has seven years of experience in music writing having contributed to several online publications. When he’s not busy running Already Heard, he’s either watching football or wrestling or he’s at a gig or at some festival. He can be found on Twitter at @SeanReid86.