Personnel: Daisuke Tamagawa (guitar).
Audio Mixer: Josh Wilbur.
Recording information: The Fortress, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographer: Maciej Kucia.
On their fourth album of electronicore mayhem, Japan's Crossfaith shoot for the stars with a sci-fi concept about artificial intelligence, the conflicts within, and rebirth through destruction. Epic in its theatricality, Xeno (Razor & Tie) begins with symphonic dread (not unlike Muse's "2nd Law" suite) before being punctuated with stabs of typical Crossfaith rave synths. The mosh-pit-in-space opens up on the title track, a biting metalcore track with orchestral and EDM flourishes. This combination of brutality and catchy beats has long been their m.o., but on Xeno they finally nail the balance with deft cohesion, leaving behind much of Apocalyze's Skrillex dubstep and the generic metalcore of their first two releases. On "Devil's Party" -- the catchiest song they've written yet -- the spirit of Static-X is channeled with sheer addictive insanity, part of the reason they are such a popular live act. Elsewhere, the frenzy on "Paint It Black" rages like a five-alarm fire with a most brutal drum fill and raucous energy, while "Vanguard" crushes with an eye-opening gutter growl that would make the most hardened death metal fanatic nod with approval. There are moments of levity, like the Linkin Park-esque power anthem "Calm the Storm" and "Tears Fall," which is as close to a midtempo ballad as these boys will get. A pair of high-profile friends make guest appearances on Xeno: Caleb Shomo (Beartooth) contributes some screams to "Ghost in the Mirror" and Skindred ringmaster Benji Webbe brings his ragga-metal talents to the high-octane "Wildfire," returning Kenta Koie's turn on that band's 2014 track "Warning." As the digital outro of "Astral Heaven" signals the end to this story, it's apparent that Xeno is a streamlined realization of what Crossfaith have been aiming for all this time: apocalyptic J-metal that inspires as much moshing as it does dancing. ~ Neil Z. Yeung