2 Oct 2023

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Crooked Royals - Album Review: Quarter Life Day Dream

19 Oct 2022 // A review by Kris Raven

Kiwi progressive Metalcore 5-piece Crooked Royals are a ticking time bomb, the anticipation and hype for their debut album Quarter Life Day Dream is brewing, and their path to global domination has been building since their inception. They have come out of pit swinging and have hit 2022 hard, heavy and ready to take on the international stage.

Having dropped three massive tracks this year alone as well as previous single Copacetic (see review here) in 2020, along with epic spine tingling videos, they have also signed on to 3 Dot recordings, the label of progressive metal legends Periphery. Crooked Royals have grown to be one of the mightiest forces in the NZ metal scene in recent years, touring throughout NZ post covid life and supporting massive international artists including Silent Planet, The Plot in You, Gloom in the Corner and Banks Arcade in 2022.

So onto Quarter Life Day Dream, loving the artwork right, how good!
Opener Glass Hands really sets the tone for the album and the intricacies that are always on offer with a Crooked Royals song. These songs are hyper focused, balancing the insanely technical musicianship with soaring and hooky melodies' and aggressive attack. Guitarist Jake Andrews virtuoso playing shines throughout this album, but there is also a lot of room left for twin vocal attack of Lee Mackley & Christian Carstensen and the rhythmic powerhouse of Connor Lawson and Keane Gillies. While previous offerings saw the lads perhaps wearing a few of their influences on their sleeves, this album has seen them really find and define their Crooked Royals sound.

Onto III Manor. This song is a personal favourite, it slaps you hard in the ear feels. Christian’s vocals are always phenomenal and he has really stepped up again with his euphonious voice and vocal hooks, countering Lee’s aggressive and passionate screams. Recent single Counterfeit is a heavy beast, while it is the shortest song on the album, it’s not the sweetest. It’s got an industrial metal element to it, musically reminding me of UK djent/rap crew Hacktavist with vocals having a more nu metal style. I really like the vocal experimentation adopted and how they have stripped down this song to a more fundamental groove.

Way Point is another song where Christian shines on lead vocal duties and the song has a bit more of a driving rock and pop punk style, it’s a cool change up and really adds another layer to their sound. Owed To You is just one example of the machine like interplay between Connor's bass skills, holding down the low end as well syncing in with some of Jake’s godlike guitar mastery, while Keane is holding down multiple changing rhythms and finding pockets of room to shine with fills throughout the ever changing peaks and valleys of the songs musical landscape. Once again the vocals are stunning, Christian’s vocals soaring with harmonious flow while Lee breaks between the lines with a mix of feverishly intense screams and roars.

Paper Warrior is ferocious and heavy asf! It features a fantastic menu of tasty breakdowns, guitar sweeps, bass drops, stupidly good double kicks, bleurghs, anthemic guitars and stunning melody. Something for everyone. Between You and I, what a climatic final track. The cleanest track vocally on the whole album, where Christian carries the majority of the vocal work. A beautiful track and an interesting choice as a closer. The dynamics in this song once again bring another flavour to the overall album, the drum intensity is pulled back, the guitars and bass while still intricate are less frantic and it really allows the vocals to carry the song and album to close a huge, progressive and emotional finale. 

This album is a shining example of quality musicianship and songwriting. The production is top class with engineering and mixing duties handled by the one and only Zorran Mendonsa (Seas of ConflictShepherds Reign), sleek, polished and heavy asf with mastering by George Lever (Sleep Token, Loathe)

Be sure to catch this incredible band at their next show, buy this album and embrace the quarter life day dream.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Crooked Royals

Crooked Royals unearth harmony from unpredictability. The quintet is Christian Carstensen (clean vocals), Lee Mackley (heavy vocals), Jake Andrews (guitar), Keane Gilles (drums), and Conor Lawson (bass). Infusing metalcore with moments of head-spinning off-kilter prog, alternative melodies, and even nocturnal trap R&B, the band switch lanes seamlessly and smoothly.

They bob and weave past boundaries with a deft and dynamic approach. After racking up millions of streams independently and touring with various genre heavyweights, they perfect this vision on their full-length debut album, Quarter Life Daydream out through esteemed label 3DOT Recordings.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Crooked Royals


Quarter Life Day Dream
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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