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Crystal Lake is ready to take you on a metalcore journey with their release, Helix. It’s an absolute trip.

Formed in 2002, Crystal Lake is a Japanese metalcore band from Tokyo. The band currently consists of vocalist Ryo Kinoshita, lead guitarist Yudai Miyamoto, rhythm guitarist Shinya Hori, and drummer Gaku Taura.

Helix is the band’s label debut with SharpTone Records. Yes, it is a definite banger. Hopefully, you like science-fiction, too, because this album for sure has a lot of droid-sounding vocals and space-related themes.

“Apollo,” the first single off the album, blasted early listeners with variety ranging from quiet strings, to screaming, to a spoken word sequence. With its Enter Shikari meeting the Ghost Inside vibes, it set the intergalactic stage for Helix. Was the bar set too high, though? Did the single actually box the band in thematically? Yes.

The album begins with the title track and a recitation of, “Every living thing must spiral into dust.” Right out the door, it becomes pretty clear that Helix is all about an apocalyptic robot uprising of some sort and the filth of the human race.

“Aeon,” the second single off the album, goes on to slap listeners in the face with a complete onslaught of science-fiction meeting deathcore. Ryo’s range is just insane; the screams are real. Let’s just let the video do its thing; Helix is more cinematic than anything.

If there was one word to describe Helix, it would be cinematic. Crystal Lake utilizes the voices of droids, radio transmissions, and many other electronics throughout the album. At times, however, the story-like creation breaks down on tracks such as “Ritual,” “Hail to the Fire,” and “Just Confusing.”

“Just Confusing” is well, just confusing. The album could do without it. The phone vibrations on the track are obnoxious and not all that pleasant. Also, “Hail to the Fire” should have just been saved for an album concerned with demonic sacrifice or something. The songs just don’t fit well with the rest of an arguably brilliant record.

On the plus side, “Agony” bounces off of “Aeon” almost flawlessly with an Architects-like “Doomsday” blast. The cleans come through strong, and the electronic components on top of the guitars, make for a splendid genre-blender.

Helix as a whole is just a genre-blender. “+81” has a slight Dance Gavin Dance and Shrezzers feel. The glutarals are downright incredible on this one. It just deserves your attention like most of the album.

Carrying on, “Lost in Forever” is a brilliant Area 11-like track, with a Ghost Inside feel. Sadly, it does sound a little too much like the Ghost Inside. It sounds like it blasted off Get What You Give. Is it too much of a sound-alike? Nah. Maybe. One has to decide that for themselves.

“Outgrow,” again, has an Architects vibe. But. It has spoken word sequences – something Crystal Lake does quiet well – adding originality to their work. With an Enter Shikari and Crossfaith-like flow, the diversity of the band on the record is downright unbelievable.

“Devilcry” is arguably the most diverse track on Helix. With a wispy beginning, that snares into a Shikari-esque breakdown, it does not disappoint. The rap sequence flows with an almost flawless precision on top of a dystopian theme, and the electronics sound like they came out of some intergalactic battle scene.

The album’s closing track, “Sanctuary” closes the bleak album with more uhm, bleakness. Helix is an album concerned with the problems of humanity after all. Despite the bleak lyrics of innocence being gone, this track certainly delivers both a hard hitting and touching ending to an incredible record.

Crystal Lake’s new record coincides with the band’s first ever North American tour, with August Burns Red, Fit for a King, and Miss May I.

FEBRUARY 15—Lincoln, NE—Bourbon Theatre
FEBRUARY 16—Minneapolis, MN—Cabooze
FEBRUARY 17—Des Moines, IA—Wooly’s
FEBRUARY 18—Grand Rapids, MI—Intersection
FEBRUARY 20—Columbus, OH—Newport Music Hall
FEBRUARY 22—Ottawa, ON—TD Place
FEBRUARY 23—Quebec City, QC—Imperial De Quebec
FEBRUARY 25—Hampton Beach, NH—Wally’s
FEBRUARY 26—Portland, ME—Aura
FEBRUARY 27—Clifton Park, NY—Upstate Concert Hall
FEBRUARY 28—Buffalo, NY—Town Ballroom
MARCH 1—Hartford, CT—The Webster
MARCH 2—Poughkeepsie, NY—The Chance Theater

Standout Tracks: “Aeon,” “Agony,” “+81,” “Lost in Forever,” “Outgrow,” “Devilcry,” and “Sanctuary”

Rating: 8/10


Freelance Writer and Photographer