Artist: Capture the Crown
Album: ‘Til Death
Label: Sumerian Records
Capture the Crown refer to themselves on their Facebook page as “metal/hardcore” done the Aussie way. Oddly enough, they sound exactly like every other hardcore/screamo band you’ve ever heard. They are exactly as alienating, making cacophonous, tuneless music that will only appeal to those already immersed in the genre, and exactly as irritating. Not just because the music itself regurgitates the same mediocre sound effects and screeching vocal lines so often you’ll weep from exasperation, but also because the album includes exactly one acoustic song that illustrates tremendous potential and leaves you wondering why the band felt the need to destroy everything else on here. Suffice to say, originality is not their forte, but even that would be excusable if they were borrowing from music worth celebrating.
Now, admittedly, this is quite clearly not my cup of tea and I’m sure that those more inclined towards hardcore or screamo will find plenty to savour here. Mostly, I’m frustrated because I’d love to hear what bands like these are capable of when they’re not straining their writing and ideas through an outrageously dull mixing pot of demented effects and distortion. It’s been done before, it was never good in the first place, and it makes for a messy ensemble of downright silly songs that never find a point to justify their existence. Capture the Crown do mix in the odd moment of clarity but it all feels like a terrible waste of time when, with a bit more effort, you could get your point across without needing programmed bedlam to make people pay attention. What little effort has been expended on atmosphere (the occasional ghostly string effect or chorus) is hardly enough to bring sense and eloquence to proceedings. Every now and then, the onslaught is temporarily broken by clean choruses and more thoughtful breakdowns but for the most part, the songs are padded out by discordant and jumbled vocals and graceless synths, vying horrendously for attention.
Intro song “The Arrival” isn’t bad, though the combination of air raid sirens and chanting isn’t exactly revolutionary. Problems are immediately apparent with “OIMATEWTF” and its copy/pasted ensemble from the everyman’s lexicon to screamo rock. The song is so intent on sounding wild and frayed and abashed that it forgets structure, logic, and melody. It’s an utterly inaccessible cacophony of effects and grunting and goes on for far too long. “Fork Tongued” and “Ladies & Gentlemen…I Give You Hell” are both poor efforts that find a footing during their cleaner moments. Amid well-worn guitars and drums playing overly familiar breakdowns, there are brief moments of discernible vocals and guitar harmonies that, while derivative and clichéd, at least give you a moment to make sense of things. The album is far more effective when the band take this approach. Weeding out all the embellishments and adding something simplistic lets the record be more coherent, less about how much synthetic noise can be added and more about what the band are actually trying to say. The problem is inconsistency. These touches add much to the songs on which they’re used but they’re tossed about so flippantly that the album never seems to flow. Indeed, by the end of the album, songs become so reliant on a clean chorus to anchor them that this too becomes inane and repetitious. Tracks like “Lax” and “Insomniac” find a way to err on the right side of intensity at times, but “RVG” is ruined by the frightful and annoying vocal that lingers over the ending.
These tracks are interspersed with moments of such dramatic awfulness that you may find yourself staring wistfully at the likes of The Bunny The Bear (yep, I went there). “Storm in a Teacup” is possibly the worst one of all, featuring prolonged screaming over quivering synth, bouncing recklessly off each other as though contained in an unpadded asylum cell. There is literally no point to this. Everything that one would associate with the term ‘song’ as it is traditionally understood is missing, presumably buried in an unmarked grave with the band’s best intentions. The only thing worth remembering about this record is, bafflingly, kept til the end – “The Departed 2.0,” the aforementioned acoustic effort that rediscovers joyful things like tune and melody and actual words. The vocal harmonies are excellent and the atmosphere keenly evoked – delicate and ephemeral, bringing real warmth and engagement to the track. It’s when one sees potential like this that you realise quite how bad everything else is. When your band is capable of being assured and genuine, the need for such woeful overacting elsewhere is doubly stupefying. Play to your strengths, even if they’re not quite in the area you’d anticipated, or else you risk subsuming your ability behind a wall of petulant attention-seeking.
‘Til Death is only a debut, so perhaps some of it can be written off as over-zealousness. But there’s really no need to be so deranged when you’re looking to make an impact. There is a fine line between appealing to existing fans and looking to a wider audience but methinks step one is clarity and purpose, two traits which the band would do well to consider in future.
Review written by Grace Duffy