October 2, 2015 Crossfaith – Xeno (Album Review)
Osaka, Japan spawned the Metalcore band Crossfaith in 2006 with Vocalist Koie Kenta, Guitarist Takemura Kazuki and turntable maestro Tamano Terufumi after the Nu-Metal band they were a part of broke up. With aspirations of starting a new band, the three set out on their own, and quickly found Drummer Tatsuya Amano, a schoolmate. Looking to do something different, the band set out to decimate the Pop music culture pervasive in Japan.
Releasing their debut record The Artificial Theory for the Dramatic Beauty in 2009, one year later, Crossfaith covered Prodigy’s “Omen,” which was featured on Fearless Records’ Punk Goes Pop 3’s Japanese release as a bonus track. This afforded the band to be supporting acts for the likes of Hatebreed, Machine Head, In This Moment, Bleeding Through, The Used, August Burns Red, and Memphis May Fire. The following year, Crossfaith was signed to Tragic Hero Records to release their second album, The Dream, the Space, specifically in America. As the band’s popularity grew, several bands’ invited them on their tours, and with that, their 2012 tour schedule grew exponentially. The Fall of 2012 saw Crossfaith drop their The Matrix series inspired titled EP Zion further growing fans interest in America.
The beginning of 2013 saw Zion released in Europe, and with both releases, Crossfaith toured, gaining the band the international success they were after. On a roll, the following Fall saw the release of the album Apocalyze, which was helped by the pre-release videos for “We Are the Future,” “Eclipse,” and “The Evolution.” Then, tragedy struck. Guitarist Kazu had a brain hemorrhage, which affected his left arm. Through perseverance and the love of his bandmates, Kazu recovered, and Crossfaith (frontman Kenta ‘Ken’ Koie, Guitarist Kazuki Takemura, Bassist Hiroki ‘Hiro’ Ikegawa, Keyboardist Terufumi ‘Teru’ Tamano, and Drummer Tatsuya Amano) was primed to release their fourth studio album, Xeno, produced by Josh Wilbur (All That Remains, Lamb of God) via Razor & Tie on September 18th.
A work of passion, Xeno is a 15-track story of two characters, artificial intelligence and human desperation telling of hope, failure, love, betrayal, and death. “System X” gets the story going intensely with hyper synthesized string instruments turning into a futuristic House piece that introduces the AI character. Next, the title track, “Xeno,” screams in with Speed Metal drums accompanied by air-tight riffs in this piece that introduces the human character, “I’m pulling out my soul to prove I’m alive/Lead me to the dawn of the new born/I’m putting up a fight and try to survive.” A call to arms is the theme for the anthemic “Raise Your Voice” when the double-drums begin followed by the synths and searing guitars. The dark futuristic “Devil’s Party” has a high-tempo Metal melody juxtaposed to the lyrics of hopelessness as Crossfaith asks futilely, “Can you hear me out/I’m drowning alone.” Moving on to “Ghost in the Mirror,” which features Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo, marrying the futuristic with the straight Metalcore in an intense internal fight, “I am the maze now I finally see (finally see)/I never knew I’m the ghost in the mirror.”
As the AI take over, the humans feel like they live in a “Dystopia” with its cacophonous mix of Speed Metal with futuristic synths. Hip Hop and Metal marry for “Wildfire,” featuring Skindred’s Benji Webbe, as the humans join forces to start the spark that is going to tell the AI, “We got you’re wildfire.” The tear-inducing power ballad, “Tears Fall,” features stripped down piano work, light drums, and melodic riffs as this track speaks of loss and remembrance, “Tears fall where once I held your hand/Hear the echo of a melody/Will I find a way to be without you.” Like a juggernaut, the aggressive “Paint it Black” comes in like a battle between Metal and Electronica as the coup begins, “Time to come back from the nightmare created to keep you in a cage/It’s time to break out!” The suspenseful intro belies the Speed Metal piece “Vanguard” is. This track begins the first wave of insurgents attack, “Wake up tonight/We were born to lead not follow/Lost in the fight.” As the battle gets going, “Calm the Storm,” is a slower contemplative piece of synths and light drums as one of the humans takes stock of the magnitude of what he is a part of.
The ethereal “Astral Heaven” continues the contemplative theme as the pace becomes a fun instrumental Electronica House piece. The album returns to the action in Metalcore “Madness.” The simple driving drums and tight riff tells of the fray, “Bring the madness, bring the madness/Bring the madness, everybody rage on…” The up-tempo “Dance with the Enemies” is a straight mosh pit track heavy with drum lines and thick riffs, “Oh step outside feeling alive/Tonight I will dance with the enemy/Yeah we’re ready to go, breaking the law/Tonight I will dance with the enemy.” Xeno draws to a close with the darkly optimistic “S.O.S.,” a Techno/Metalcore tune of defiance in the ongoing battle of the humans and the AI, “I will keep on screaming/“SAVE OUR SOULS!”
Crossfaith’s Xeno is a musical epic that is very “now” with the ever changing technological world and our place in it. Dually, this album could be a cathartic exercise for the band to release the feelings that went with Kazu’s illness. As brilliant as the album is, here is hoping the next is not born out of such a life changing situation. CrypticRock gives Xeno 5 out of 5 stars.