We’re ticking another country off the map today by introducing you to an awesome new metalcore band out of New Zealand, Crooked Royals.
The Auckland five-piece are everything you could want from a metalcore band – a combination of screamed and clean vocals, huge crushing riffs, and a generally delightful combination of intense heaviness and delicious melody. The vocals bounce deep and meaningful, in their words, ‘philosophical ramblings’ over the top of infectiously good technical, groovy djent guitars.
Despite residing in Auckland, none of the quintet of Lee (vocals and triangle – yep!), Christian (guitar and vocals), Conor (bass), Jake (lead guitar) and Keane (drums, aka hits shit) are from the city. They all moved their separately, gradually became friends that enjoy making similar music and, most crucially, all love metal.
The band released their debut EP Interwine last month, and it’s huge. On the EP they tell us: “The reception has been incredible, especially seeing as this is our debut EP. Having people all over the world listen to your music and having people come to the shows and scream words back at you is a crazy feeling! As far as what to expect just Djenty, groovy, vibey, metalcore goodness we hope.”
And that hope is not ill-founded. They’ve created a real masterpiece of all the above on an exceptional debut record.
It kicks off with lingering atmospheric noises in the opening to Ashes, then bursts into a huge blast of screamed vocals and high-pitched guitars with Djenty guitars kicking in underneath. A screamed verse follows, then drops into a clean catchy chorus of “Can you help me the light I knew has fallen, While you’re still breaking the ground has gone” which feeds straight into another onslaught of screams, djent and high-pitched guitars with relentless drums pushing the track along.
That’s followed by a low-tuned riff and massive screams in the intro to Opia, then a gradual build-up into a prolonged scream and driving guitars. These give way to a cool repeating high-pitched guitar loop, pounding drums and driving bass under infectious clean vocals, then more powerful, intense screams. There’s combinations of haunting high-pitched bursts of guitar and low-tuned pounding riffs that bring the track to an exciting end.
Next, debut single Liberosis opens up with electronic noise then a looping riff and huge drums over screamed vocals, which end with a “Bleugh” noise then a big driving riff. A clean chorus follows “Come shatter all your dreams, Because the weight is haunting me, I see the future as a path, And that path is not serene, I feel your heartache pass through bone, And though you say that you’re alone, There’s not a thing that I forget, And it’s the fact that I regret.” There’s a whole lot of Parkway Drive about this song, and it’s absolutely huge. Check it out in the video below:
That’s followed by Deadweight, which opens up with big clean vocals over djenty guitars that soon drop into deliciously heavy, low-tuned diving guitar blasts. Huge screams are answered by clean responses, then a long smash of screams over high-pitched guitars drops into doomy drums, chugging guitars and eerie synth sounds as the relentless pace continues. It goes out with awesome driving guitar riffs, huge drums and cymbals and throat-destroying screams.
The EP closes out with its heaviest track, the interestingly named Uncle Keith, which opens up with drum rolls, building guitars that drop into a jumpy riff and huge cymbals that continue through an intense screamed verse. That continues into a fun little synth loop, which is blown open by the blast of a huge low-tuned riff, which brings the return of the intense screams. Wild cymbals, driving drums and frantic high-pitched guitars take over and bring us to the end of an excellent record.
If this hasn’t got you hooked, then how about the band’s definition of the Crooked Royals sound? They tell us: “This is a hard question to answer, predominately with the guitars, bass and drums we try to be a bouncy, groovy, djenty Metalcore band but we like to pull our inspirations from all over the place to either make it heavier or softer in places and keep it unique and try different things. For example, our screamer likes to use the way rappers flow with his screams, and our singer tends to listen things mostly non-metal when writing melodies.”
All in all, it’s a deeply intriguing fusion of sounds and inspirations, from the likes of Northlane, Architects, Parkway Drive and Slipknot through to Alexisonfire, Dance Gavin Dance and In Hearts Wake.
While lyrically, the band add: “We write about an abundance of things, whether it’s band members’ experiences or emotions, or something we believe in or feels wrong to us whether that be political or just on a day-to-day level. The most important thing for us though is as much as we like to point out the noise and shit going on in the world that is affecting you and the person next to you (whether you know it or not) we always like to come full circle and show there’s a plus to being happy and alive, ’cause in the end the world is a pretty dope place!”
As mentioned up top, this is the first band we’ve interviewed from New Zealand, so we asked the band to give us their thoughts on their local scene. They told us: “The talent is phenomenal, NZ is a highly underrated place for musical talent, so many bands that are killing it out here! Our scene feels like a big family at times cause all the bands hang out together and have each other’s back, people come out to shows to support and pack out the local venues to have a few beers, a singalong, and a mosh.
“It could it be busier and more vibrant but over the past year or so we have definitely noticed an influx of international acts coming to NZ which definitely shows there is a market here for it and, with the number of decent bands NZ is producing at the moment, we won’t be surprised if it gets bigger and bigger!”
We love what we hear from Crooked Royals and there’s much more to come, including the launch of a video for Ashes at the end of this month. They’re just starting to demo their next EP, ahead of recording it in October with the aim of getting it released by the end of the year. They’ll also be touring New Zealand and Australia in early 2019.
And, if you fancy checking out more NZ metal and rock, then the Crooked Royals guys have helpfully supplied us with a list of their favourites! See below…
Metal: Antagonist AD, Devilskin (who, from seeing live, we can verify are awesome), Banks Arcade, Seas of Conflict, Destructatron, Mudshark, Fallstate, Downfall of Humanity, Pale Flag, Godzilla Takes New York, Bloodshot, Depths and DRXNES.
Rock: Animalhead, Coridian, Minimal Silence, Skinny Hobos, City of Souls, Written by Wolves, Pale Lady, Dead Beat Boys and Silence the City.