Since long running metalcore unit CRYSTAL LAKE changed their tone in 2012 with the addition of frontman Ryo, they have quickly become one of the most promising and powerful forces in Japan’s metal/hardcore scene to date. In 2014 they released ‘Cubes’, a no holds barred kick to the gut that debuted at #5 on the Oricon (Japanese music chart) indie weekly album chart. These guys mean business, and their new album ‘The Sign’ due for release across Europe on November 13th via JPU Records is here to prove it.
Straight from the get go the album kicks it into high gear with ‘Prometheus’, catching you off guard with a brutal descent into a solid riff and one of the most breakneck drops of the year that sets the dial past 11 for the first half of the album. ‘Dreamcatcher’ turns the dial down to 11 for slower emotion filled spoken-word verses interlaced with catchy pop-influenced choruses, only to crank it back up again with a short interlude leading to a crushing drop courtesy of ‘New Romancer’, you know, just to mix it up a bit.
Variety track ‘Hades’ takes the album off the rails for a spin around CRYSTAL LAKE’s record collection with a Slipknot-esque riff complete with ‘Heretic Anthem’ quote, and a hip-hop break with a Jay Z reference for good measure. Giving you the illusion that they’re going to let you down easy with the final track ‘Light up the Tunnel’, only for it to turn round and smack you in the chops for one last shout along tune, the band bring the album to a stellar close, wrapping up yet another shining example that these guys are destined to move Japan’s underground hardcore and metalcore scene into the international limelight.
As if they didn’t have what it takes to make it on their own, the album also enlists a number of top class acts and fellow up and comers including SAND frontman Makoto, the beast himself Ikepy of HER NAME IN BLOOD, and Hiro from the once masked crusaders FACT.
Pump track after pump track, The Sign constantly steps up the mark as it delivers non-stop highlights of the band’s career. Full of hark backs to 90’s metal and hardcore, CRYSTAL LAKE wear their inspirations on their sleeves but at the same time manage to keep every track original with a sound that’s unmistakeably their own. These guys are loud and hit like a sledgehammer, supplying more than our recommended dosage of headlong drops for the year in one album alone. The Sign serves as their first true step onto international turf, and they’ve done it with more style than any other band in 2015. With any luck, these following years will lead to the breakthrough CRYSTAL LAKE so desperately deserve.
Ps. If I was to have one gripe, it’s that their Body Movin’ cover didn’t make the international cut.
Out Friday November 13th and available for pre-order from JPU Records‘ online store and Amazon.co.uk. Can’t wait to get in on the action? You can pick-up the digital version now on iTunes and via Amazon MP3.
Words by Charles Shepherd