July 15, 2019 Crown The Empire – Sudden Sky (Album Review)
What does it mean to be human in 2019? Here to open the discussion and offer some friendly advice, Crown The Empire present Sudden Sky. Rise Records delivers the collection to expectant ears on Friday, July 19, 2019.
Formed in Texas in 2010, Post-Hardcore/Metalcore outfit Crown The Empire would go on to release their debut full-length, the conceptual The Fallout, in 2012. Two additional albums followed over the next four years—2014’s The Resistance: Rise of The Runaways and 2016’s Retrograde. Alternative Press darlings, the band have covered everyone from My Chemical Romance to Maroon 5, all while touring alongside the likes of Asking Alexandria, Black Veil Brides, Motionless In White, Ice Nine Kills, Volumes, Famous Last Words, and many, many more. In addition, Crown The Empire are, of course, alumni of the Vans Warped Tour.
Now prepared to deliver their fourth full-length studio offering, Crown The Empire—Vocalist Andy Leo, Guitarist Brandon Hoover, Bassist Hayden Tree, and Drummer Brent Taddie—present Sudden Sky. Produced by Drew Fulk (Motionless In White, Lil Peep), the 10-song collection weighs heavily with themes of mental health—including the band’s innermost fears and anxieties—alongside observations on the chaotic and disconnected world in which we live.
Sudden Sky opens to the just over a minute intro, “(X).” A sonic building in intensity as Leo sets the stage for an album steeped in the discussion of mental health and the everyday struggles that many of us face, it culminates in “20/20.” The album’s first proper track, here Leo’s vocals soar as he opens his eyes to the world around him and acknowledges all the connections in his mental outlets. Building to infectiously melodic choruses, the track offers the idea that disconnecting from technology and actually stepping out into the sunshine can do a world of good for our mental health.
Lyrically, “What I Am” explores the push and pull that occurs throughout so many of our daily relationships; the struggle between putting yourself and your personal needs first, and the self-doubt of wondering if letting go was the right decision. When you feel as though you’re losing yourself in a relationship—be it romantic or otherwise—is it best to walk away? (Hint: the answer is yes.) This segues perfectly into “BLURRY (out of place),” an initially hazy, amorphousness that leads to a discussion of feeling entirely lost and out of place.
There’s a certain level of safety inside a bottle, and “Red Pills” explodes with a gritty edge as the band explores the idea of escaping this prescribed numbness to embrace something more. An important topic in today’s troubled times, there’s a ferocious passion behind Leo’s words that sees Crown The Empire firing on all cylinders as they promise that there is something more outside of your depression. Continuing on a very similar theme, the incendiary “Mzry”—which has a truly artistic, animated video—goes for an even more universal topic: the bitter pill called misery. Another vicious look into mental health and finding a way to get out of bed, here the band craft a haunting experience, experimenting with sounds within the parameters of the song all while offering hope to the broken.
It’s hard to deny the infectiousness of the haunted howls in “Under the Skin,” a battle for change raging inside the self. Amping it back up, “Sequ3nce” explodes into a bass-heavy wall of sound anchored by Taddie’s incendiary drumming as Leo passionately agrees that “it’s hard to save yourself,” walloping listeners in the feels as the band dig deep and go heavy. Next, drums anchor “March of the Ignorant,” a look at our mindless, modern crusades that is baked into an experimental blend of ethereal electronics and distorted vocals.
What makes us human? “Sudden Sky” seeks to find an answer to that question, and closes out its namesake album with a pummeling bang. An anthemic push against mindless conformity, Crown The Empire suggest that if you can “shut down the airwaves” and move beyond technology to actual human interaction, you can learn to embrace life once again. In short, there is something much greater than your cellphone—welcome it!
While mental health is a vast inspiration for musicians in nearly every genre in 2019, Crown The Empire manage to inject themselves and their musical passion into their discussion of the topic throughout Sudden Sky. From disconnecting from technology and embracing human interaction to the need to put oneself first and foremost in relationships, they take on a myriad of topics while crafting infectious tracks that experiment within their parameters and never conform to any one genre standard. All told, Sudden Sky is a wonderfully-authored collection that sounds amazing and yet touches on difficult topics that need to be discussed. A reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, Cryptic Rock give Crown The Empire’s Sudden Sky 4.5 of 5 stars.
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