Crown the Empire started out as a dramatic metalcore band. Despite distancing themselves from the metal, they can’t avoid the drama. 2016’s ‘Retrograde’ ushered in a sonic shift, along with grievous line-up changes and revelations about outside songwriters. The journey hasn’t ended there, tonight, they’ve been downgraded to Club Academy.
First up, it’s a band who’ve literally had a long journey, Japanese metalcore band Coldrain. Bringing a wealth of experience to the stage, they play like there’s something to prove. Energy crackles from the guitarists and sweat flies as drummer Katsuma Minatani batters his kit. Vocalist Masato Hayakawa sounds a little ropey, but he’s trying hard and quickly whips up the audience. ‘Runaway ‘ and ‘Feed the fire’ are warmly received with big breakdowns getting heads banging. On slower song ‘The War is On’ the band are at their best, but it’s with closer ‘Gone’ that everyone’s having the most fun. (3.5/5)
Volumes saunter on after their intro track has finished, indicating how their set is going to run, lazily. The crowd just aren’t into the lurchy djent of opener ‘Left For Dead ‘. Technical glitches are sorted for the second song ‘91367’ but the band can’t hold everyone’s attention. Gus Farias’ tired drawl fails to tempt any crowd surfers, most of the crowd have decamped to the bar. Co-vocalist Myke Terry has the required energy, but he’s underused, spending most of the 30 minutes dancing in the corner. ‘Waves Control’ whips the audience up, yet other songs fall hopelessly flat. It’s a massively uneven set, at times like they’re not even trying. During ‘Finite’, Farias proclaims “Oh, I’m so f**king high right now” – frankly, it shows. (2/5)
Being relocated to Club Academy isn’t unusual, or unwelcome; the smaller venue feels packed. ‘Sk-68’ plays over the sound system and Crown the Empire appear in a storm of charisma. Quickly proving they belong on a much bigger stage, they launch into ‘Are You Coming With Me?’ with so much energy you could sell it bottled.
Keeping the audience on their toes, the band plunge into a catalogue that mixes singalongs and breakdowns. Throughout, Andrew Velasquez’s vocals sound stunning, but the chorus of ‘Memories of a Broken Heart’ arrives like a tidal wave. Similarly, tracks like ‘Voices’ and the insane ‘Johnny Ringo’ soar, despite the band being whittled to a four-piece. Mid-set two new singles get an airing. ‘20/20’ with Hayden Trees dishing out a massive driving bass riff and ‘All I Am’, which basks in a glorious hook-filled delivery. Both are extremely well received.
Orchestral interlude ‘Oh, Catastrophe’ is piped in, allowing the band to leave the stage and Velasquez to sing solo. It’s overblown, it’s theatrical, but it’s fantastic and leads into closer ‘Fallout’. On record the song is marred by gimmicky production choices that sounded rubbish in 2010 and haven’t aged well either, here, it plays out like a classic. Quickly, the band return for a triumphant encore of ‘Initiation’ and ‘Machines’ leaving a big impression on the doting crowd. (4/5)