ARTIST: CROWN THE EMPIRE
TITLE: SUDDEN SKY
LABEL: RISE RECORDS
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON
“What am I afraid of…the unknown?” begins the spoken word driven instrumental opener ‘X’, which is an entirely appropriate start for the record, because Crown The Empire clearly aren’t. Experimenting and pushing the boat out musically on this album, the band take their listeners into new unexplored territory. Perhaps following in the foosteps of many traditionally heavier bands who have recently brought in more pop and electronic elements into their work (BMTH’s ‘Amo’ immediately springs to mind), Crown The Empire switch things up a bit here compared to previous work and they deliver it with gutso and confidence.
’20/20’ is the first full track on the album then, and mixes up guttural screams, pounding dreams with a soaring chorus kicking everything off to an exciting start, and continuing with ‘What I Am’ you can really hear the band drift further away from a traditional metalcore sound into the more widespread appeal of the modern alt-rock market. Shimmery sounding guitars with easily accessible and memorable choruses are the way forward, with a delicate vocal delivery in places which really shows off the ability of frontman Andy Leo.
“the band take their listeners into new unexplored territory. “
‘Sudden Sky’ is sure to polarize opinions amongst fans of the band, and fans of metalcore in general. With the use of vocal effects on ‘BLURRY (out of place)’ giving a slick, modern feel, Crown The Empire are a band who are clearly moving with the times and unafraid to try new things. There are times it threatens to feel over-produced and almost too slick and a couple of the tracks feel underwhelming. ‘Under The Skin’ could have been shortened and seems to drag, dipping the middle of the album down and losing the momentum a little, but it picks up again after that.
‘March Of The Ignorant’ is a mature, satisfying listen – a quiet, reflective number with some kind of horn/brass effect towards the end and sounds very different from a lot of the tracks on the album. It also has an important subject matter, although the record in general has a bit of a theme running through it. The band described the album as capturing “our innermost fears and anxieties while questioning humanity and the chaos of the world we live in today.”
Musically, the record could be accused of jumping all over the place a bit but there’s still a focus and cohesion to the record despite the experimentation. ‘Red Pills’ is heavier and more traditional and ‘SEQU3NCE’ is one of the best tracks on the album. Noisy, urgent and exciting with a healthy mix of synths and guitars, if they were looking for a specific new direction or sound, this is it.
“rising away from the metalcore genre and embracing a more genreless approach”
Title track ‘Sudden Sky’ is a powerful chorus led anthem which ends what feels like quite a short album, in and out pretty fast but leaving the listener plenty to think about and mull over. It’s a record that begs for repeated listens to really appreciate the nuances of various tracks. Whether this will be a total new direction for the band and whether it will work for them remains to be seen but there’s something on the album for everyone, and will satisfy older listeners but hopefully pull in new ones and widen the band’s appeal.
Four albums in, Crown The Empire are still defining their own place in the industry but rising away from the metalcore genre and embracing a more genreless approach to their sound will surely be a good step for them. ‘Sudden Sky’ has some exciting moments, and is full of potential for the band’s future, and some other moments where it doesn’t quite hit the mark, but overall it’s pretty solid and it will be certainly interesting to see where they take things next.