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Review : The Cruxshadows – As the Dark Against My Halo
As The Dark Against My Halo
It’s been a while. It’s been a long while, but the Cruxshadows (CXS) are back with their first album in 5 years.
Label disputes, life, family, children have all stood between the band and this release, but here it is – and it was worth the wait. Let us not forget there were 4 years between ‘Ethernaut’ and ‘Dreamcypher’, so it’s not the first gap between albums. However, ‘Dreamcypher’ was a bit of an anti-climax. Sure, singles like ‘Sophia’ and ‘Birthday’ were strong, but the rest of the tracks didn’t quite stack up. ATDAMH is not only full of strong tracks, it’s also a lot more consistent.
CXS work the same way they always have. Take a collection of tracks influenced by mythology, pack in uplifting messages, add a dance beat, boogie. A fine craft of dark electronics, fused with violins, and a smack of guitars. A lot of production work has clearly gone into the album and the result is simply stunning. The quality is breathtaking and you can feel each riff of the violin strumming right through you, superb.
‘And I Believe’ is the opening track of the album and live-show, it builds up perfectly as an intro-track, setting the tone for optimism with a slow crescendo. Spoken word from Rogue, with a majestic string arrangement.
‘Valkyrie’ and ‘Quicksilver’ would both be familiar to fans following the stop-gap single releases, both built for the dancefloor, trademark singles, upbeat and uplifting.
However, ‘Halo’ and ‘Sleepless’ can be added easily into their collection of classics, the former certain to be lodged in heads for weeks and borders between a football chant and refusal of surrender (“we won’t sit down / we won’t shut up” ).
Tracks like ‘Infinite Tear’ and ‘Angelus Everlasting’ show off the mellow, more Gothic, side of CXS. ‘Angelus Everlasting’ even borrows some melodies from The Mission, sneaky!
It is 14 tracks and they will have wanted to compensate fans for the wait by giving extra tracks, but the album could have done with ending about three songs earlier. ‘Matchstick Girl’ lacks some of the earlier pomp and ‘Dark Matter’ is just bizarre. However, this is like slicing open a tasty cake to make sure all the raisins are the same shape and size.
This is an album that should hopefully cement CXS return. It’s already got them some festival slots and more deservedly should follow, it’s not only the strongest CXS album to date, but also one of the top albums this year.