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(30:40; 3 Dot Recordings)
The concept behind this band came into being when Christian Carstensen (clean vocals) and Lee Mackley (heavy vocals) met at a battle of the bands competition fronting their respective outfits and decided it would make sense for them to work together. With the line-up completed by Jake Andrews (guitar), Keane Gilles (drums), and Conor Lawson (bass), Crooked Royals have created quite a reputation for themselves within the progressive metalcore scene for the complexity and intricacy of their music with two singers who are very different indeed yet combine to provide laser focus. Since their formation they have created a huge name for themselves on the circuit for their over-the-top live shows, and here we have the debut album which has seen them signed to American prog metal legends Periphery’s own label (a quick look at the site sees their photo dominating the homepage). So, just why has an American outfit reached all the way down to Auckland to sign a local band? Misha Mansoor explains it like this, “this gives us the opportunity to curate and nurture outside musical projects and bands that we truly love. 3DOT is a passion project first and foremost, and as a result we can focus on genuinely supporting the bands we work with, thereby using our love of music as our driving force.” Crooked Royals are a band who within the course of one album bring together multiple threads to combine them into a cohesive whole, so we get pop rock here, djent there, prog metal over here, full on metalcore in that place, straightforward hardcore over there, so much going on that they truly justify the progressive tag due to their refusal to sit within any one genre. Jake and Conor provide a foundation which is always moving, always switching direction, utilising multiple styles and techniques to keep pace with Jake who can be finger tapping, throwing down a groove, shredding or even keeping it somewhat simplistic, while at the front there are two singers who keep pushing the other and the band reacts accordingly. “Paper Warrior” is massively over the top with huge Meshuggah vibes, driven with some great double kick drums and then it turns into something which is almost pop! One never knows where they are going and spin quickly to new directions. They wisely chose Zorran Mendonsa to be behind the desk, and he has made them polished while never losing any of the edge and power. The result is a debut album which surely will see them acclaimed far more widely than just Aotearoa. Melodic, exciting, always twisting and changing, this album is easy to listen to yet is also wonderfully deep and broad, and I look forward to see what 2023 brings for one of our most exciting bands.
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