Originally written by Jordan Campbell
The first in a trifecta of summer blockbusters for Italy’s Cruz del Sur (in what just may become a banner year for the label) Crown the Lost‘s sophomore release is a vibrant chunk of metal that toes the modern/traditional line deftly, bringing some youthful swagger to the label’s roster.
The band’s brand of near-future thrash has a twinge of melodic death mixed in. Think Susperia, Signs For The Fallen-era Suidakra (catch that reference already?), and even Blaze Bayley‘s recent masterwork, The Man Who Would Not Die. Yeah, that last one’s a power metal album–and Crown the Lost, despite pleas to the contrary, is a power metal band. A distinctly American one, at that.
As such, Blind Faith Loyalty‘s appeal hinges on the performance of vocalist Chris Renaldi. Juxtaposed with the modern thrashing, the expulsions from his pipes are adrenalizing–his unique howl gives this album it’s identity. Steamrolling through the first two songs in quick succession, the band gallops in the background, allowing him to blast away in his gut-busting, foot-on-the monitor manner and carry the songs on his shoulders. “Defame the Hypocrites” is percussive and infectious, held together with an epic bridge. As immediately as that song ends, “Drawing the Parallel” slaps you across the face with a space-age Iced Earth gauntlet; Renaldi gets soulful and bold here, channeling shades of Barlow and Dickinson. The third track, “Bound to Wrath,” is easily the album’s shining light, a deliberate anthem with a classic chorus and yet another heart-wrenching bridge.
Unfortunately, the album peaks early. The lack of tempo variation–compounded with Renaldi’s limited, too-consistent range–renders the second half of the disc a veritable plateau of repitition. Too infrequently do the guitarists spice things up and unleash some serious shred, and they are hindered by a vocal-centric, mechanical production that accentuates the dominating vocal propulsions nearly to a fault. And while his performance is certainly impressive (especially lyrically), his one-trick act becomes easy to tune out as the disc progresses, and the attempts at incorporating death growls and falsettos for the sake of variance are cringe-worthy in their delivery.
By the time the speedy title track brings Blind Faith Loyalty to a close, Crown the Lost have locked themselves into a rut of sameness and drifted from the forefront of conciousness. Which is a shame, because the first three tracks are as electrifying as anything released this year. In a twist of irony, it’s the band’s blind adherent to this formula that lessens the impact of the album as a whole. Crown the Lost are certainly a recommended investigation; but they are also a band that hasn’t fully spread its wings.