After three consecutive short EP releases, Crossfaith are finally back with their latest full length album; Ex_Machina, the bands first LP since 2015's XENO. There's a difference this time though, as the concept running through its veins is that of a dystopian future, carrying a forewarning message of the dangers of elitism and misuse of technology.
In traditional 'faith style, the opening track 'Deus Ex Machina' takes the form of a synth infested stage intro type number, before flowing directly into most recent single release 'Catasrophe', a song uniquely inspired by early 2018 anime Devilman Crybaby, and the demonically tempestuous nature of its protagonist. The track is constructed in equal parts with blaring hardstyle electronics, brutal heavy segments and an absolutely gargantuan chorus perfectly demonstrates Crossfaith's ever growing songwriting capabilities. Whereas 'The Perfect Nightmare' scraps the desire to be anything except possibly the heaviest track the band has ever written, featuring intense gang vocals and some of the lowest, most guttural growls frontman Kenta Koei is capable of, alongside drummer Tatsuya Amano laying down some of the most fierce and extreme drumming of his career.
'Destroy' comes along in the form of a booming resistance song, featuring American hip-hop hardcore unit Ho99o9, who lend their vocal flow to the bold fight back track, before bassist (and fashion guru) Hiroki Ikegawa's rythmic plucking brings in the recycled but oh so brilliant 'Freedom'. Despite being taken from one of their previous EP's, it's pretty much a no-brainer to make sure the track is present on Ex_Machina, as not only does it fit faultlessly with the running theme of the album, but also dishes out a fantastic mosh-ready riff from guitarist Kazuki Takemura, and features non other than the prodigious Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari laying down an almost grime like section before affording his signature shouts and bellows.
Ex_Machina keeps its foot on the accelerator throughout its entirety, 'Make A Move' is a huge sounding, upbeat party rock monster that could get any room bouncing as soon as the first chorus drops. But it's with 'Milestone' where the record steps into new waters. Thematically divergent from the rest of the album, its lyrical tone surrounds the bands journey rather than their patented sci-fi style - Crossfaith have never sounded so open yet so compelling.
Another standout track comes in the form of 'Eden In The Rain', which was written mostly by Ken rather than the groups main songwriter, electronics wizard Terufumi Tamano; It's a huge ballad, somewhat reminiscent of post-nu metal Linkin Park material, and includes some of Ken's strongest clean vocals to date. Crossfaith are showing all their colours with this new record, and are able to present a variety of different styles whilst retaining a core concept and theme. It's Quite possibly their most solid body of work to date, even 'Twin Shadows', a short purely instrumental track most focused on atmospheric synthwork manages to captivate the eardrums before the band unleash pure, unadulterated hellfire with 'Daybreak', a track sure to rekindle admiration from fans of the 'Apocalyze' era sound.
With Ex_Machina, Crossfaith are at the absolute top of their game, managing to experiment with new styles and genres whilst at the same time not abandoning any of the things that made them so appealing to begin with when they first made their debut outside of their native Japan. Score: 9/10 Facebook:/CrossfaithOfficial Twitter: @CrossfaithJapan