Crystal Lake – Helix review

Pushing the boundaries of metalcore with an innovative approach 8/10

Crystal Lake band
Formed in Tokyo in 2002 and heavily influenced by mid-90’s hardcore, Crystal Lake released their debut album Dimension in 2006. In 2019, the lineup still contains original axe wielders Shinya Hori (rhythm) and Yudai Miyamoto (lead) with the 2012 additions of Ryo Kinoshita on vocals and Gaku Taura on drums. Helix is the third album featuring this core and has already achieved success in Japan from its release in November 2018.

Crystal Lake return with their savage technical breed of hardcore following their Dalek like introduction of Helix , into Aeon and its intense barrage of blastbeats, ferociously growled vocals industrial interludes and thunderous riffage. You can check out the track and fantastic accompanying video here

Agony is the longest track and commences in a relatively straightforward metalcore/ tech metal style with melodic layered vocals to form a biting brain bombardment. +81 brings a more anthemic nu-metal feel which will transpose wonderfully to a live environment. Despite the Marmite rap elements, it’s a very accomplished track with an upbeat ferocious crossover more akin to Rise of The Northstar than Bodycount.

Lost In Forever is melodious metalcore, with a rousing chorus featuring a breakdown with some ethereal female vocals which completely transforms the track and elevates it from the sea of similarly orientated acts.  

Outgrow commences as a slower paced almost choral ballad, with a nu-metal leaning and prog/tech riffs. Similar to an intellectually delivered Linkin Park it’s very much unlike the preceding tracks and is definitely a grower. Ritual is a chant accompanied with grunts that would not be out-of-place before a sports match, which leads into the ferocious, tribal and bass driven Hail To The Fire.

Devilcry could have easily been lifted from The Crow soundtrack, mid tempo and accessible with a cinematic feel and the rap delivery is astonishing in its speed and accuracy.

The one thing I find more annoying than the sound of my phone going off, is the sound of someone else’s. It’s rude and it immediately sets me on edge (Lemmy, bless anxiety in all its forms). Just Confusing starts with just that, morphing into a spacey EDM techno  that would not have been out of place in the sort of clubs that feature autotuned boy band music. For me, this track is very confusing and irritating. It’s terribly clever, but it really hits all of the niggles that wind me up. Apollo brings relief with more familiar territory, albeit a little synthesised. Sanctuary delivers the albums closing track in a similar vein to its opening. Invigorating, engaging and remorseless it’s almost enough to shake free a little of the previously delivered inhumanity.

In all Helix is a very well produced and delivered body of work, the fact that some tracks grated is my personal problem. Crystal Lake are certainly trying to push boundaries and I welcome their innovative approach they are certainly not spiralling into dust with Helix.

Crystal Lake Helix

Tracklist:

  1. Helix
  2. Aeon
  3. Agony
  4. +81
  5. Lost In Forever
  6. Outgrow
  7. Ritual
  8. Hail To The Fire
  9. Devilcry
  10. Just Confusing
  11. Apollo
  12. Sanctuary

Helix was released March 15th and can be purchased here

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