Over the last two years, Crossfaith have established themselves as one of the most exciting live metal bands on the planet. With their blend of electronic influenced metalcore, and songs like The Evolution & We Are The Future (not to mention THAT Omen cover) they've established themselves as one of Japan's premier musical exports. Now their new album Xeno has arrived to see if it can take them to the next level.
Instantly out of the blocks this is a high energy album that grabs the listeners attention. System X is arguably the best album "intro" track of the year, building the mood perfectly before the album kicks in properly with the title track. Packing everything one would expect from a top level Crossfaith track, Xeno sees Koie Kenta positively venomous in his vocal delivery in the verses while the instruments swirl around him in a perfect blend of drums, guitars and synth. Combine those elements with a huge chorus and this gives the album a brilliant platform to kick on from.
Other highlights of the album are numerous; Raise Your Voice can easily be described as a metal anthem of the highest quality with a chorus that begs to be echoed by fans at large venues while recent single Devil's Party again highlights the craft of combining metalcore and electronica that Crossfaith have become such experts at. Dystopia is another surefire live success, and as one of the heaviest tracks on the album is sure to be another live favourite.
Xeno also features a couple of guest turns. The collaboration with Beartooth's Caleb Shomo on Ghost In The Mirror will prove very popular, but even that pales in comparison to Wildfire. Featuring a guest turn from Crossfaith's November UK tour mates Skindred main man Benji Webb, "The ultimate collaboration" as the song refers to itself is the metal party song of the year. Venues up and down the UK will explode when this song gets its inevitable airing - and rightly so, to call it infectious doesn't do it nearly enough justice.
Later in the album Xeno sees Crossfaith branching out to try new things. Tears Fall sees that most tricky of things to get right - a metal ballad - which is a fine effort by Crossfaith for a first try at such a song. The five minute, fully instrumental Astral Heaven provides another very welcome surprise in an album that keeps the quality levels high right until the closing track S.O.S.
Overall, this is one of the metal albums of the year. It may not be one for the elitists but Crossfaith have honed the already impressive blend of different elements in their sound to a new level. Xeno should take them even further on the International Stage beyond the love they already have in their homeland and the UK.