The Australian Metal scene is currently producing an array of highly impressive bands in a variety of Metal styles. Where do Melbourne’s EarthCaller sit amongst the likes of Parkway Drive, Void OfVision, Polaris & DeezNuts to name but four? Signed to eOne music, their album “Crystal Death” takes its title from frontman Josh Collard’s past as a Crystal Meth dealer. It’s something he’s open and Frank about as well as being something that was heard in interviews surrounding the albums release.
“Crystal Death” is an 11 track affair that opens with one of the bands heavier tracks “Pipe Dreams”. Blending hardcore punk speed and a melodic bridge with metallic hardcore breakdowns and pre-choruses is an invitation for circle pits before the album is even 60 Seconds out of the gate. The variety in the one song is well carried off, taking tone and pace changes from frontman Josh Collard’s bark in classical punk style. Indeed his variety in the vocal while avoiding cleans is a joy. “Sucka” then continues the positive hardcore vibes while perhaps lacking the depth of sentiment of the album opener. Gang chants and vocal battery aside it’s more of a straightforward affair and is at times lyrically daft but still fun. “No Forgiveness” then takes a surprise turn by introducing politically aware lyrics, thematically taking the music to another place entirely. The orchestral elements over the crushing guitar work of chorus is a fine piece of work, while an almost Beatdown hardcore inspired breakdown to close the track is a classy touch, adding weight to an already atmospherically deep track.
“Exposed” then takes things in another direction, piping breakdowns upon breakdowns and pulling back to a melodic hardcore punk chorus with a gang chant. It’s the contrast between the segments of song and the interplay between the guitars that makes the track. “Dying Beside You” is a deeply personal track about a broken relationship that seems to hark back to Josh Collard’s past. A spoken word style rap and melodic but not clean vocal builds layers between melodic guitars that cross into Metalcore territory build atmosphere before a crushing central breakdown and brutal vocal before returning for another chrous run. “Never Is Never Around” picks things up a pace notch or two with hardcore punk speed but keeps things relatively melodic until a “Blegh” occompanied Beatdown hardcore break. Lyrical hints at relationship breakdown and metal health issues are used to bring the light from the dark. “A Ghost” introduces the first clean vocal of sorts on arguably the most punk inspired song of the album. Guitarist Zac Noble and Bassist Harley Hadden handle these I’m style while Josh Collard’s bark adds bite.
“Fall” steps things up again but maintains the big melodic chorus that has been introduced on the later songs on the album. It relentless pace and hard hitting breakdowns in the pre and post choruses help bring out the melody while also giving it a satisfying crunch. Guest vocals from Sophie Jest aren’t prominent until her version of the chorus but then appear more in the mix as the song begins to close and give a nice contrast vocally. “Mirror” takes further sentimental steps down the former relationship path lyrically while Guitarist Justin Murphy adds melody with some inspired lead guitar work. “May 16” benefits from Joel Divers drum work being louder in the mix. Lyrical introspection doesn’t quite reach nu-metal levels but while speaking of the positives of changing your life for the better is also tinged with the sadness of the ones left behind. “Hold On” closes out the album by lyrically going full on nu-metal and musically introducing the sort of electronica that takes the band into We Came As Romans territory. It’s a melodic closer with a positive message and perhaps is suitably apt for the album.
Earth Caller experiment within quite specific boundaries throughout “Crystal Death”. Like a number of Australian bands of this generation they call themselves a Hardcore or Metalcore band but actually when it comes to the breakdown there is so much more to it than that. For the most part, the experimentation works well and the variety of lyrical themes on show keep things vocally interesting. For a hardcore band, Earth Caller have much more depth and richness of sound. It is true to say that fans of the heavier songs will be harking back to the first half of the album more than the latter half, but the use of heavier breaks within some of those melodic tracks is a winner. It will be interesting to see which of the experiments the band follow up on future releases. [7/10]