Breaking into the American metalcore scene is no easy task and even more so for bands overseas. The Japanese artist Crystal Lake has been going at it since 2002, so they have some experience at this. But if they consistently release albums like True North, they’ll be a household name every headbanger recognizes.
True North begins with Alpha, a short intro that leads into Omega. And it is the perfect way for Crystal Lake to start off the record. You know you’re in for a treat the moment Omega hits you with a catchy riff followed by a brutal growl with double bass not far behind. It’s the highlight of the album, but the other songs aren’t slouches.
Hatred and Metro demonstrate how many different hats Crystal Lake can wear. Hatred begins with a rap and the rest of the song sounds like what Atilla should have become. It’s heavy with a few touches of hip-hop, and the lyrics are dumb (yet endearing) and incredibly catchy. Metro, on the other hand, sounds more like a traditional metalcore song and even incorporates a few clean vocals.
True North has a wide range of tracks. Each one feels unique, which prevents the record from getting stale and wearing out the listener. Crystal Lake also incorporates multiple quiet moments throughout their songs. Breathe Deep and Walk On Water offer a break by slowing down the pace, but they allow the listener to appreciate the heavier songs like Six Feet Under.
However, True North isn’t perfect. It’s only 38 minutes long with 10 tracks, so you may be left wanting more (not necessarily a bad thing considering it sounds like Crystal Lake just made a fan). Also, while the record is varied, it has some flow issues. When it changes styles from one song to the next, it can be quite jarring at times. Granted, these are nitpicks, but they’re worth mentioning.
Crystal Lake brought their A-game with True North. It’s a phenomenal album that every metalcore fan should give a shot. It leaves some room to grow for the band from the land of the rising sun, but it’s definitely one of the better metalcore releases this year.
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