Review: CRASHDÏET – Automaton
Crusader Records (April 29th 2022)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
CRASHDÏET are back with their sixth studio album, ‘Automaton‘. Since bursting onto the scene in 2005, the band has, through sheer perseverance, brought back the glam/sleaze look and sound of their late 80s contemporaries. They’re also one of the few bands from Europe who were able to mount a headlining US tour in support of their ‘The Savage Playground‘ album. Despite having four singers over the course of six albums, there has been consistency (and a bit of growth) with their sound.
So how does this album rank? It’s up there with their best releases. CRASHDÏET’s last album, ‘Rust‘ (their first with vocalist Gabriel Keyes) was lyrically one of CRASHDÏET’s more angry, darker albums. Tracks like ‘Idiots’, ‘Reptile’, and ‘Parasite’ had more of a take no prisoners attitude, like a band on the brink. This album has its share of that same vibe but offers a slightly more melodic approach akin to ‘Generation Wild‘, an album that ranks as one of the best in the genre and a personal favorite.
Just like that album, the first three tracks floored me and are my favorites from the album. The album opener ‘Together Whatever’ is sure to be the set list opener and will surely rank as one of the favorites from their fan base. A rallying cry for uniting rebels, it’s classic CRASHDÏET with their signature sounding grooves and background gang-style vocals that elevate the material above other bands who try to capture that same vibe. From there we get the very melodic, mid-range rocker ‘Shine On’. Lyrically both songs offer inspiration about fighting to overcome odds, which is what makes this album sound somewhat different than their last release. From there, first single ‘No Man’s Land’ kicks in to offer one of the heaviest tracks of the album. I’ve been listening to this track repeatedly for a few months now and still love it as much as I did the first time I heard it. What a riff! I feel it’s perfectly placed on this album and offers a nice change of pace at just the right time.
There’s certainly something to be said about proper pacing. The album has the usual rockers, but changes things up with two ballads and two slow grooving yet heavy tracks, spread across the length of the album. We’ll start with the ballads. Some may not see ‘Darker Minds’ as a ballad as it’s more mid-tempo, but I feel its lyrics about longing for resolution to a fractured relationship certainly fit into the ballad category. The second, more traditional ballad, ‘I Can’t Move On (Without You)’, closes the album. A mostly acoustic ditty and a lyrical sibling to ‘Darker Minds’, it kicks into full band mode after the acoustic solo and offers a moving yet powerful ending to the album. Thinking about their prior releases, there are few songs in their catalog that touch on topics like this.
‘Dead Crusade’ starts out with nearly the same exact opening as their previously recorded song ‘Anarchy’, with guitar notes being strummed with an added echo effect but takes a decidedly heavier groove than that older track. Drummer Eric Young makes this song shine with his great fills and solid rhythm. While it’s a great track, my favorite of the two heavy groove tracks is ‘Shell Shock’. Mr. Young’s heavy drums with equally heavy notes from guitarist Martin Sweet and the best gang vocals found on the album make this one of my favorites.
There was a brief period after ‘The Savage Playground‘ album where the band broke up and were unsure about where to go next career-wise. I think I speak for a lot of glam/sleaze fans when I say that I’m glad decisions were made to resolve their differences because this band belongs on the upper tier of musicality and respectability and this album proves it. Another fine release from these Swedish sleaze boys and an instant blind purchase for every fan new and old.