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Crowdburn’s Ignition Won’t Burn Brighter Than a Spark

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Sometimes you can tell a lot about a band just from their album’s press release. In the case of Sweden’s Crowdburn, their release boasts that the band’s two music videos (a cover of Skrillex’s “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and a video of their original song “Confronted”) together had accumulated nearly 500,000 views on YouTube. Unsurprisingly, the Skrillex cover accounts for 450,000 views, while the original music video possesses a mere 30,000. The fact that much of the band’s recognition has been due to a dubstep cover parallels the way the band approach their music – using what other artists have done before instead of attempting to develop something new. Crowdburn’s 2013 debut full-length Ignition is a derivative, cliché-ridden collection of mediocre compositions without even a shred of originality.

Crowdburn’s intent is always painted clearly on the compositions. Metal isn’t interesting when we can predict it, when we’re listening to a song that was obviously, consciously sculpted to be a commercial-friendly ballad or a “heavy” thrasher. The truly abysmal tracks “Spiders Nest” and “A Solid Harbour In a Lonely Sea” are good examples of this – they’ve got that painfully generic balance of heaviness and softness that makes the music sound closer to Nickelback than anything else I’ve heard in years; the female vocal segments on “Sign Away Your Life” sound like they’re ripped straight from Epicloud. A handful of potentially intriguing ideas begin to emerge (the bouncy guitar/bass interplay in “Pictures”), but Ignition fails to put any sort of creative spin on those ideas, leaning back on tried-and-true clichés like chuggy rhythms and metalcoruses. The album’s focus isn’t on the music; it’s on what that music looks like, so any potential value, appeal, and depth of the music come off as artificial. Christoffer Lindmark’s and Patrik Wall’s meandering bouts of technical melody splash some pigment into the songs, but this isn’t a guitar-oriented record in the slightest, so the solos only offer a slight break from the monotony.

Correspondingly, nearly all elements of Ignition – musical or otherwise – feel half-assed and tired, right down to the band’s name and the generic album name and over-saturated art. How many artists have titled an album some variant of Ignition?). Aron Anderrson’s wanna-be Phil Anselmo vocals are likely the most aggravating aspect of the album. Pseudo-Southern tough-guy yells and autotuned choruses clash uncomfortably with the instrumentation on nearly every track. It doesn’t help that Anderrson’s lyrics are all-too intelligible and laughably cheesy, ruining tracks that demonstrate some instrumental potential (the brisk, headbangable “Alligator”). The vocals make Ignition palpably difficult to listen to for an extended period of time, and attempting multiple repeats is more challenging than wading through the densest, most unintelligible Tea Party agendas. To top it off, the band’s promotional material is riddled with typographical errors – some things can be chalked up to translation issues, maybe, but on the other hand, when you’re trying to promote a band globally, it’s a good idea to account for accuracy and grammar (the press release managed to call Meshuggah a hard rock band, spell their name “Messugah,” and incorrectly use nearly every comma).

Crowdburn have spent too much time focusing on what they want to appear to be, and as a result, they’ve pushed musical quality to the edge of their focus, guaranteeing that their watered-down sound will only appear as music metalheads should actively avoid. Unless you’re a sucker for nostalgic, poorly organized European metalcore, you’ll likely find that there are better things to be listening to these days.

Crowdburn’s Ignition will be released on October 11 on Discouraged Records. You can both stream a few tracks and pre-order the album here.

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