Ryan Murray | Co-Owner | Chief Editor | Contributor
Crooked Royals, the New Zealand based Progressive Metalcore quintet has released their highly anticipated debut album “Quarter Life Daydream” via 3DOT Recordings, a label owned and operated by none other than Periphery!
Having released two self-released EPs, as well as “Copacetic”, a single released in 2020 that has been described by Australia’s Wall of Sound publication as “a pummeling, intricate track that showcases the band’s take on metalcore. The song explores mental health and its vulnerability in today’s current world. It’s a fresh, exciting constrast between soaring cleans and sophisticated metal the band have mastered.”, the band is more than ready to make their debut felt and heard all around the globe!
Making their debut, Crooked Royals has significantly raised the bar, and has very easily set themselves aside as an incredibly genre-defying hit that’s going to take the world by storm!
Mixing elements of metalcore, progressive, trap, rapping, clean vocals and screaming harsh vocals, and even hard rock at times, this quintet has created something that’s not only rhythmically, melodically and sonically powerful, but emotionally powerful as well. The album sees the band talking about, plainly put, the “quarter life daydream.” Between being stuck in beginner jobs, life’s stresses and a 2.5 + year global pandemic that’s flipped everyone’s lives upside down, this album dives deep into the rough patches that the band has faced during the pandemic, working jobs and writing music.
Opening this beast of an album is a track called “Glass Hands”, an instant hit that doubles as an incredible album opener, as well as a great picture of things to come. A building synth leads way to an intense, all-out-assault on your senses, with some hard-hitting metalcore vibes, with an almost instant punch to the gut. Guitars scatter your brain with metalcore riffs as well as more progressive sweeping guitar melodies, all with punchy hooks throughout. The band sees the harsh vocals of Lee Mackley and the clean vocals of Christian Carstensen, offering an incredible juxtaposition, not just vocally, but sonically as well.
“Ill Manor” sees some more absolutely great riffing, offering some more straight up hard rock vibes, but still has some beefy, metalcore feels as well. Lyrically, this track really grabbed my attention. To me, it speaks of those who we entrust and look up to as people with more wisdom that end up stabbing us in the back. Earlier this year, my wife and I had to cut someone out of our lives that we had put so much trust in and looked up to for wisdom. This person had been treating me awfully for several years, but I just always tried to look past it. This person withheld genuine concern, love, empathy and so much more, masquerading as someone who we could trust, when in reality, they were the furthest from that. The lyrics that stick out to me the most were “I always trusted the ones that show how the world was past my control. Bittersweet how far we fell, buried under what you withheld.”
“Way Point” starts out with a more laid back, almost pop-rock synth with Carstensen’s clean vocals offering an incredible melodic hook throughout this entire track. This track also shows the incredible versatility and dynamic range of his vocals, effortlessly shifting from his chest voice into falsetto and back again with no sign of strain. His tone is a perfect fit, and this track really allows that to shine.
At only 2:40, tracks like “Counterfeit” truly show the strength of Mackley’s harsh vocals, and how well they fit within the bands style. Another brutal assault, this track absolutely rips with beefy, metalcore riffing, fusing with some elements of trap, with the last half of the song being absolutely on fire. This track, for me, speaks to how easy it is to feel like a counterfeit version of ourselves. Constantly trying to live up to other people’s expectations can be tiring, especially when we continue to live in that falsity instead of living our truth.
One of my favorite tracks on the album has got to be “Owed to You”. The band has always said that they don’t like to do the same thing over and over, and this track is clear evidence of that. I absolutely love the vocal melody throughout this track, along with the cleaner guitar solo from Jake Andrews. Similarly, “Copacetic”, while having much more metalcore infused throughout, also has a very melodic hard rock feel to the clean vocals. When the harsh vocals and riffs hit though, they are absolute fire! About just being “ok”, “Copacetic” sees the need to break free from being mentally apathetic, and accepting that it’s ok to not be ok.
“Paper Warriors” is a punch to the gut! With fast, heart pounding drums, beefy metal-core riffing and some really hard harsh vocals with some great melodic hooks as well, this track is definitely radio friendly!
Closing out the album is “Between You and I”, a fitting end to this absolutely stunning debut! As a stark contrast to the polished and sophisticated metalcore sound a lot of the album offers, this last track sees an entirely different side of the band. With a more melodic and lighter sound, such as the rim click groove backing up the verses, this song perfectly executes the lighter, almost more vulnerable side of the band. Melodically brilliant, this softer track, ironically enough, hits really hard with the feels.
Crooked Royals have done what not a lot of up-and-coming bands have done – they’ve struck gold with this debut and it’s going to take the metal world by storm! From the fusion of so many different genres and influences, the ability to constantly change and seek new things, and the incredible talent the entire band brings to the table, Crooked Royals have set themselves straight to the stratosphere! Keep your eye on this band, they are heading for great things!