Crown The Empire
Retrograde
(Rise Records)

It sometimes feels as though the Dallas-based metalcore outfit, Crown The Empire, skyrocketed into widespread popularity in the blink of an eye. When you consider how long it can take for a band to gain notoriety, then they essentially did. They initially caught the attention of music fans and music writers like myself when they released their debut EP, Limitless. At the time of the EP’s release, the band’s frontman, Any Leo, was only 17. His talent did not go unnoticed for too long though, and the group was signed to Rise Records with a full-length album in the pipeline less than a year later. Five years later, the band has unleashed their third studio album, Retrograde.

CTE’s first two full-length albums were concept pieces. They focused on dystopian futures, corruption and revolution. Retrograde strays away from those themes. In interviews, the group has discussed creating a themed record that encompasses various interpretations of space – whether it be outer space or needing to spend time away from someone. Even though they don’t have a full-fledged storyline in this album, there are plenty of themes for fans to grasp on to.

One thing the band established early on is that they are capable of writing catchy lyrics. This is one of the main contributors to their rapid success. Many of the songs on Retrograde are no different. The album’s first full song is “Are You Coming With Me” – which is one of the top songs on the record. The next track is “Zero,” which is another solid effort. They toned down their over the top theatrics and replaced them with a larger than life rock ‘n’ roll sound.

If they band ever wanted to hit mainstream radio success, they might have it with “Weight Of The World.” It has some great hooks – even if they are as such because some of the lyrics are a bit on the generic side. The song sounds like a rock anthem. “Hologram” is one of my personal favorite tracks – even if the verse “Am I becoming a hologram?” is a little on the cheesy side. Aside from its cheesiness, the message the band is trying to pass on is one that’s pretty relatable.

Overall, Retrograde offers some quality listening. Some of the lyrical content is cheesy and cliche, but otherwise pretty solid. The band has strayed away from the overuse of heavy electronics and are settling into a more mature sound. They haven’t lost their over the top theatrics though, which should come as a relief for fans. After the high bar the band set with their last album, Retrograde may come as a slight disappointment. Though they have done a great job polishing their sound over the years, they still have some work to do.

Purchase Retrograde here

3-half-stars

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My specialty is detached malevolence.

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