Crown The Empire are one of the most interesting bands in metalcore. The Dallas gang’s incorporation of My Chemical Romance-esque fantasy elements has been a large part of why they’ve stood out from the shout-a-bit, sing-a-bit crowd to date.
Third album ‘Retrograde’ sees them stray away from the larger than life concepts, but they’re still shooting for the stars. While there’s plenty of gusto, their ambitious vision has been refined this time around. After cinematic opener ‘SK-68’, the stompy ‘Are You Coming With Me’ explodes as a rousing call to arms. There’s smatterings of delicate piano passages and voiceover segments, but they are intertwined between the industrial sounding ‘Aftermath’ and apocalyptic ‘The Fear Is Real’.
There’s less focus on bells and whistles and more on writing stellar songs with just a pinch of the magic that makes this band so unique. The “woah-ohs” that infest ‘Lucky Us’ sounds like ghosts have got trapped in the recordings, while ‘Weight Of The World’ is their take on an ’80s space ballad. When they do rein things in it results in the likes of the colossal ‘Zero’, ‘Hologram’ and ‘Signs Of Life’, some of the catchiest songs this band have ever written.‘Retrograde’ is the perfect balance between Crown The Empire’s lofty ideas and their ability to write captivating rock songs.