Crowned King - Break the Silence
Release Date: 2003
Record Label: Aquarius Records
While it seems like another ska band is dropping off the map everyday, Crowned King still manage to retain a part of their roots. With their 2003 sophmore release, Break The Silence, the band has attemped to recreate themselves, while maturing in their songwriting and overall performance. What's the end product, you ask? To make it short and sweet: a more grown-up, toned down version of their previous selves. While the energy is still present and manages to flow through each track, it seems these Canadian's have lost their flair.
By no means should Break The Silence be considered an album unworthy of a listen, but moreso a record that newcomers to the bands fanbase would enjoy. Where the bands blazing horn section used to perform up front and personal to ones ears, they have now drifted to become more of a background additive, and one that feels like it is only present because the record was obligated to include them. Forget the powerful, stick-in-your-head brass harmonies fans might recall from the bands earlier work, whereas now they seem to be consistently carrying the same format as the guitar work.
The record opens with "Playing God", a mid-tempo, pop-punk song with lyrics much related to the songs title. After this listen alone, it's evident that frontman Shaun's vocal range is limited, and his tone becomes rather tiring and predictable much too quickly. "Turn It Up We're Going Down" and "Don't Wanna Go", two of the albums three singles, display the less than favourable production. While raw and edgy, the production merely resembles a jumbled mess of sounds. In all honesty, a different approach to the mixing board could've done this record justice, and it's a shame that the end product has to sound like this. While certain changes are crystal clear in nearly ever corner of the record, none are moreso prominent than in "One In a Million". Though typically an anticipated, slow ballad, it's undeniably the most impressive offering yet. The hooks are strong, and the intensity is quite absorbing, something one wouldn't naturally expect from a dreamy sing-a-long. "A Song About Death" alone truly displays how uninspired and boring the horn lines really are, as if they're more irritating than impressive.
While Crowned King manage to retain their knack for writing an infectious hook, not a single track manages to present anything new or inspiring. Picture an album full of somewhat memorable choruses, and often a sing-song melody, but lacking any sort of original appeal, thus making it become lost amongst a hundred other albums in your collection. On first listen, the record really isn't all that characterless, but if Crowned King want to make a monumental record, they're going to need to create a formula that equals lasting appeal. As the album drags on and on, it's all the same over and over again.
To bring all of this together, I suggest taking a good amount of time before you make up your mind on this one. After twelve tracks of repetitious material, the album draws itself to a close in routine fashion. It's nearly impossible not to find yourself less than uninspired prior to listening. On the plus side, the lyrics aren't half bad, and there's a fair few worthy hooks here and there. Speaking like an optomist, if Crowned King can bring about a handful of individuality, I see no reason why any listener shouldn't realize their potential to make a fabulous record. While Break The Silence wasn't exactly my cup of tea, fans of predictable, pop-infused hooks might truly find something to enjoy.