17 Jul 2019
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Crooked Royals - EP Review: Rumination

29 Mar 2019 // A review by Kris Raven

Let's just start off by saying, Ruminations is 5-songs by Crooked Royals, who have leveled up in a big way. It sounds like a band who have found their sound with well-constructed songs that are cohesive, interesting, original and just HUGE. It's night and day in terms of production and while the production on Intertwine, their previous EP, was great, working with Zorran Mendonsa has elevated their new batch of songs to the next level. Intertwine was a band finding their sound and working with newer members whilst Rumination is a band that has found their sound, bonded their members and musically hit the ball right out of the park.

Getting down to the tracks:

Rumination, the title track is my personal favourite. I find this song outstanding and feel like this represents the band's overall sound. There is a great mix of melody, groove, some classic metalcore, a little alt metal and then wrapped in a progressive metal coating. While they do wear some of their influences on their sleeves, there is some homage to August Burns Red, particularly in the outro guitar solo which just has such a fun vibe to it and is super catchy while also showcasing the endless skill set of guitarist Jake Andrews.

Screamer Lee Mackley encapsulates similar vocal stylings heard on Northlane’s Discoveries album, bringing confidence, angst and aggression throughout the verses. Whilst co-singer Christian’s vocals are so damn catchy and hypnotic, the notes and melody carrying the second half of the song. There are shining moments from every member, bassist Connor Lawson has bass lead parts during the clean parts, and I imagine holding down the rhythm parts under all the MANY guitar tracks is no easy feat. Drum wise it's mammoth and sleek, there is such a balance and energy - drummer Keene Gillies certainly doesn’t underplay but he doesn’t overplay either, fitting in all the gaps, connecting with complicated guitar patterns and showcasing a vast array of technical skills on the double kicks and tom work.

Dissentients is Crooked Royals' soon to be released next single. Beginning with war drum fills building from a slow fade in guitar, the battle versus drum and guitar begins. This slow building crescendo allows the listener to not be completely ear punished by the soon to be destructive and intense first passage with pummeling double kicks and belted screams. This song has more sections than what is traditional and as we enter the next phase the song takes it down a small notch with Christian's vocals taking over, again super catchy as highlighted throughout the EP. We then move onto a mini tom-tom laden bridge merging into the breakdown. A welcome change of a breakdown, featuring less double kick, more groove and some solid Parkway Drive-esque riffage. The song also features the lead singer of Veil of Maya- Lukas Magyar which is kinda of a big deal in metal circles with Veil being one of progressive metals leading forces. Cannot wait to see the video for this one!

Vox Populi begins with ambient inter-layered guitars and building drums, the song then comes out in full force bringing a mix of both vocalists and a combo of screams, yells and cleans. It’s a cool play off between both vocalists. Lee's screams are commanding and clear and you can hear his demands, his screaming style seems to be more mid-range, you can hear the lyrics tangled in a cloud of aggression with a few gutterals for good measure. There is a lot of balance and thought behind the vocal interplay and it makes a massive point of difference. Like most of their songs it doesn’t have the classic verse and chorus but a collection of parts that swing tightly and methodically between breakdown, crushing riffs, melodic passages and solid relationships between vocal balance and harmony and the guitar and rhythm section where every part it seems has been meticulously thought out, every flourish, guitar pinch, fill or cymbal flair has its place. Cohesive and well planned as you have to be in the genre.

Circulate is one of the more melodic songs on the EP. With a more traditional verse and chorus with screamed verses and clean choruses. The double kicks still flow throughout and are particularly prominent in the intro. The outro of the song features phenomenal guitar sweeps and additional unclean vocals that balance in the mix with the more melodic vocal lines. This is a song where clean vocalist Christian really shines. Like all the songs throughout, there is a huge amount of depth to every composition. 

Aeon is the final track. Starting again on a lighter note, this song has a lot of groove and feel. Christian takes the lead vocal duties and Jake's guitar parts, while still incredible are less frantic throughout. So, when it gets to the chorus there is a more solid nu metal/alt metal feel, its chunky and full, with a more solid beat which allows the vocals to elevate and carry the incredibly harmonious vocal melodies. The song fades out into the guitar piece featured throughout, its moody and melodic and ends on an ambient tone.

What is in the water this year? New Zealand heavy music is just destroying, and we are only in March. What a great start to the year for metal and music. Be sure to get out and catch these tunes live!

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

Releases

Rumination
Year: 2019
Type: EP

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