Sound — 7
Crosses was formed in 2011 by Chino Moreno (of Deftones), Shaun Lopez (of Far) and Chuck Doom. The project initially started as a softer outlet for the members, and was supposed to be very minimalistic and allow Chino to provide softer non-screamed vocals. They have mostly stuck to their mission in this, though there are moments where the album sounds very metal - even if it is just "emotionally" metal vs. musically metal. This is their debut full length album, coming after a few EP releases, and contains 15 tracks with a runtime just under an hour. The tracks "Option" and "The Epilogue" have been released as singles, and the track "Bitches Brew" has been released with a music video.
The album opens up with the track "This Is a Trick," which is one of the more straightforward tracks on the album. It has a very dance-able beat while retaining some seriously darker vibes. "Telepathy" travels a little bit more into the ambient realm, and has a bass "riff" that moves the track forward. "Bitches Brew" is up next, which is one of the most musically interesting tracks on the album to me. Lyrically, I was also seriously digging this track and it also has a kind of post-metal vibe to it more than any kind of electronic vibe. "Bitches Brew" is also one of the only tracks to include any screamed vocals. "Thholyghst" is another ambient-heavy track. "Trophy" starts out like the soundtrack from an offbeat sci-fi space movie, and is oddly reminiscent of some of David Bowie's more electronic material. "The Epilogue," which was one of the singles released from the album in late 2013, which is probably the least-dark track from the album. "Bermuda Locket" is a slow-burner type of track that sounds like it would be a good dance track, as well. "Frontiers" is up next, and has some interesting stuff going on and ends up being a much more straightforward track than a lot of the other tracks on the album. "Nineteen Ninety Four" has an odd Pink Floyd vibe going on with it, and it captures a lot of the same emotion that you hear on some of the slower tracks from "The Wall." "Option" is another of the singles released in 2013 for this album, and has a really unique vibe going on with it. "Nineteen Eighty Seven" is a much more ambient track and feels like the type of track that would let you fall into a trance pretty quick. "Blk Stallion" has a more '80s sound to it, with an almost new wave vibe. "Cross" is up next, and it is more of an ambient post-metal instrumental track. "Prurient" is another of the more pop-oriented tracks on the album. The album closes out with the track "Death Bell," which has an interesting slow build-up to it, and seems to create an interesting type of anxiety.
Lyrics — 8
Chino Moreno uses his unique vocal delivery that helped make Deftones stand out from their peers in the early part of their career, using his almost whispering vocals that seem to be saturated with melancholy. A large part of the reason this album works is the great job that Chino does in creating a vibe with his vocals. There is a good deal of processing used on the vocals on some of these songs - much more than is used in Deftones - but it is always used as a creative element to add to the song, so it works. The lyrics deal with a lot of more melancholy subjects and are very abstract. Here is a sample of lyrics from the song "Bitches Brew": "As the moon ascends/ The wolves come out to see the end/ They hide from view and wait/ To watch the ghost inside you come awake/ And when the shots go off you hear them call/ My heart is racing just to see it all/ To watch it crawl out of your changing shape/ Take all your breath and watch it come away/ From the flames of the fire/ I feel you crawl into my bed/ Throwing shapes at the sky/ I watch you crawl into me/ With your knees open/ A display, you taunt the beast again/ 'Cause when you move and shake/ That thing inside you comes away."
Overall Impression — 7
I missed the release of the band's EPs over the last few years, but have enjoyed this album tremendously in the context of what it is. I don't know if I will go back to buy the EPs that I've missed, but this album is going to make it onto rotation on my MP3 player and I'm interested to see what they do in the future. My favorite track from the album would absolutely be "Bitches Brew" and then my second favorite tracks would be "Bermuda Locket" and "Option." My least favorite track would probably be "The Epilogue" because I just couldn't dig the vibe on that track. I did realize that after a few listens the album began to grow on me pretty quickly and my impression was much more favorable than on my initial listen.