CRYSTAL LAKE is a Japanese metalcore band whose forming year dates back to 2002. After many lineup changes, releasing tons of singles, EPs and 3 studio albums they seem to have landed their breakthrough record, “True North”. All context giving aside, the burning question remains to be answered; Is it any good?
The thing that strikes you right from the get-go when listening to this record, is that the band clearly draws inspirations from big names of the metalcore genre such as, ARCHITECTS and NORTHLANE. After the mellow and melodic intro “Alpha”, the follow-up track with the no-shock title, “Omega”, opens up the record and hits you right in the face with an aggressive blast beat and shows that the Tokyo based band means business. As the riffs progress throughout the song, the influences mentioned above begin to be more and more apparent. The vocals strike a remarkable resemblance to THE GHOST INSIDE’s Vigil and at times Chadwick Johnson from HUNDREDTH. Sounding like any of the above-mentioned names of course is not in any way a bad thing because those artists are at the very least talented and successful in their respectful genres. The fact though that those similarities are persistent throughout the album starts getting distracting by the time you are done listening to it.
The fact of the matter is that the band is very good at paying homage to their favorite artists and the result reflects that statement. Songs like “Metro”, “Waves” and the title track “True North” have super catchy choruses that had me humming them for days, while the heavier, riff-based tracks like “Hatred” and “Omega” always get my head grooving when I listen to them.
“If you’re fan of modern metalcore, I recommend paying CRYSTAL LAKE a visit by heading “True North”.”
Speaking of heavy songs, “Six Feet Under” is going to make you a danger to your surroundings. Those hatred-filled hardcore guitar riffs and surprisingly low-pitched vocals will leave no one in a safe state of mind after you’re done listening to it. Instrumentally wise the band does a great job while never being too technical or over simplistic. The riffs are powerful and well written and every lead melody is substantial. The vocals, both clean and harsh are fantastic despite the obvious similarities to other artists although I wish I could say the same about the lyrics. The lyrics are umm … not exactly thought-provocative and could definitely use some work. There are also some rap parts in “Hatred” and “Black And Blue” that don’t really flatter the band’s sound and come out sloppy and unattended.
The mix and production in this record is what takes the cake for me. Everything sounds crystal-clear while still being big and fat where it needs to be and you can definitely make out the lyrics at any given time although in this album’s particular case I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
When it comes down to it, “True North” is a good album that has some fantastic moments in songs like “Omega”, “Six Feet Under” and the album title track, but the lack of originality holds back the band’s potential in taking that extra step and become distinctive and reach an elite level. If you’re fan of modern metalcore and/or the bands mentioned earlier, I recommend paying CRYSTAL LAKE a visit by heading “True North”.