Metal band Crystal Lake has indeed been undergoing a rough path throughout the years. After going through formation changes and musical style changes, this band keeps standing strong and motivated! All of this has led to the Crystal Lake of today, a refined and unshatterable diamond. To prove their solidity, Crystal Lake released their undoubtedly best work so far, The Sign.
The Sign is a 10-track album containing a bunch of heavy and powerful tracks, unquestionably able to fit into any intense action movie scene! It’s a natural progression from their previous EP Cubes, but packs a whole lot more variety than expected! While the majority of the album tracks are heavy and powerful with scream vocals, The Sign is still able to offer dynamic and melodic tunes instrumentally in each and every song, compensating for the excellent, yet monotone screams. To touch it up even more, vocalist Ryo incorporates rap to some of the tracks, such as Dreamcatcher and Prometheus. It doesn’t just stop there! The band also recruited a hand full of guest artists, featured throughout the album, with vocalists from familiar bands including FACT, Survive Said The Prophet, HER NAME IN BLOOD and much more!
So far, The Sign has only been released outside Japan in physical format via the British label JPU Records, even though the band recently also signed to the California based Artery Records, who helped making the album available digitally. Our review unit is the UK/EU edition where you won’t find Bestie Boy’s Body Movin’ cover, instead it comes with an original Crystal Lake song, Light up the Tunnel.
Before the album was even released, Crystal Lake already made two of the included songs available, Matrix and Prometheus. Both tracks giving an impression of what the album would supposedly sound like — it was, however, only the facade.
My expectations of the album were instantly re-evaluated once reaching the fourth track, Mercury, a track featuring vocalist Hiro from FACT. Mercury is a melodic piece expressing regretfulness and a dubious future. With the introduction of melodic tunes and the addition of Hiro’s high vocals, contrasting to Ryo’s harsh vocals, Mercury displayed new qualities never seen before, making this album even more compelling! At this point, The Sign had already exceeded my expectations.
Despite all the stuff I just mentioned, my favorite track ended up being New Romancer which is a rather straightforward track, similar style to Mahakala that came with the EP Cubes. New Romancer in combination with its interlude song, The Sign, brings those instant headbanging reflexes with its catchy guitars and fast paced drums.
Now speaking of drums, they actually played a huge key role to the balance of this album, and here’s why. By keeping the same approach of a relatively simple, rhythmic and heavy beat, these guys were able to pull off a fair amount of melodic songs in a powerful and fast paced manner. Thus creating a very dynamic album and at the same time keeping the loyal fans happy, while also exploring new potential routes.
The Sign is a solid and loud metal album! It’s catchy as hell and makes you long for your next metal concert. Crystal Lake was able to create something unique with a pleasant twist to their typical style, each song containing their own individual characteristics, ensuring an energetic and exciting listening experience throughout the entire album.