Published Feb 13, 2019Despite being around since 2002, Japanese metalcore band Crystal Lake haven't quite popped off in the metal mainstream. Maybe it's because of major lineup changes around 2012, or maybe because they still haven't settled into their own sound after a decade-plus of making music. Either way, Helix sees the band trying out as many variations of metalcore as possible to see what works best.
Crystal Lake's previous releases felt middling in the grand scheme of the scene, but Helix has some material that easily rivals the best of the best. Tracks like "Aeon" or "Hail to the Fire" see Crystal Lake digging into levels of heaviness more suited for a deathcore band than a metalcore one, masterfully pulling together blast beats, technical melodies and jaw-dropping breakdowns.
Toning down the aggression a notch on songs like "Lost In Forever" or "Apollo" isn't detrimental to their sound, but they don't capture your attention nearly as much as they do at their peak heaviness. If the record had a more equal mix of deathcore-leaning songs and straightforward metalcore, it would flow better than it does with their Linkin Park-style electronics added in.
Ditching the wide range of guttural and screaming vocals offered up by vocalist Ryo Kinoshita for rap-rock-styled cleans on an irritating electronic song like "Just Confusing" or a crappy ballad like "Outgrow" show they're still working out some kinks in their sound. That isn't to say they outright can't pull off clean vocals though, as the band do a decent job of mixing this approach with heavy breakdowns on "+81."
Although Helix has some truly spectacular moments, it's sullied by trying to be too many things. Whether Crystal Lake want to be one of the heaviest metalcore acts or take a stab at a cleaner, electronic-leaning sound they should come to a consensus on who they are in order to have a more cohesive approach. (SharpTone)