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REVIEW | With great talent comes great responsibility: The Broken Are Crowned’s “To Those Who Stand Alone”

broken are crowned to those who stand alone cover

Editor’s note: The Broken Are Crowned are regular fixtures at THE GARAGE, having multiple posts on our blog dating back over a year. They did their most recent interview in August and we released a video from their EP release show in November. They will next play THE GARAGE on Friday, January 31 in support of Distant Signals’s CD release.

In the fall, Nick, The Broken Are Crowned’s guitarist began contributing to GARAGE MUSIC NEWS—most recently he compiled his top 50 albums of 2013.

I was excited to get this review from first-time contributor Gabriel because it fits well with Keenan’s review of The Broken Are Crowned’s recent EP. As you learned in math class, with two points you can make a line—with two reviews you can compare. You can compare by listening along with the reviews, but also see The Broken Are Crowned’s evolution. Here, Gabriel goes deep on each track. Listen to the album below to follow along with Gabriel’s breakdown.

 

by Gabriel

The Broken Are Crowned are a progressive metalcore band formed in Lakeville, Minnesota in 2011. The band’s debut album, To Those Who Stand Alone was released in the fall of 2012. The Broken Are Crowned is:

Zach Chancellor – lead vocals

Nick Stanger – guitar/vocals

Braeden Keenan – bass/clean vocals

Mitchell Nieymeier – drums

The album starts with the simply-titled “Intro.” It starts with a creative rhythm on the snare drum until the djenting guitar comes in, following the rhythm of the drums. This is followed by a guitar solo filled with sweep picking and tapping until it ends on an open chord. 3.5/5

There is a smooth transition between “Intro” and the next song, “Awakening.” The song starts with a high-pitched scream: “This is a suicide!” before continuing the djent feel of “Intro.” Later in the song, Stanger plays a brief solo while the bass plays a djenting rhythm under it, sounding un-amplified. In the outro dynamics drop as Keenan almost whispers the final chorus. Overall, a great first song. 4/5

The next song “This Tyrant Bleeds” is a darker track, played two steps lower than “Awakening.” Vocalist Chancellor sounds genuinely angry as he screams his way through the verse. During the solo, the bass, again, is barely audible as guitarist Stanger shreds away. The chorus is a standout, lyrically.

The time it has come

Justice will be served

These slaves will be set free

Our last drop of blood has been shed

Very advanced lyricism and subject matter.

There is a second guitar solo in which the rhythm guitar can be heard, making for a very filled-out sound, especially when compared to the first solo. 4.5/5

The lyrics in the following song, “The W.O.Z. Effect,” are full of rage and depression. Again, Chancellor sounds enraged as he screams dark poetry. The solo is nearly all sweep picking. A little boring. The song finishes with a riff repeated 16 times: an uninteresting end. 3/5

Track number 6, “Forever Isn’t Going to Happen Today” (a very provocative title) is a comparatively short song. All songs before it run between 4 and 5 minutes, where this one clocks in at just 2:47. Metalcore guitar riffs are spread throughout the short duration. The solo has an interesting flow to it. However, guitarist Nick does more sweep picking in the middle. By this point, Nick has already showcased his ability to sweep pick, and some might want more variety by this point in the album. Despite this, the song is definitely a song for fans of metalcore. 4.5/5

The intro to next song, “Untitled” reminds me a lot of Lamb of God with influences of grindcore. The intro lasts a minute and 23 seconds before the screaming vocals finally come in. The lyrics deal with religious themes throughout, evident mostly in the chorus. I’m not exactly sure what they say, because of Zach’s zombie-like screams but it goes something like this:

You are the one down in Hell

You are the one in question this time

You are the nonbeliever

You will always be the one with no name

The song has the guitar-oriented feel of all other tracks before it, but the vocals complete the package and make this track exceptional. My favorite song on the album. 5/5

The following song “Legions” begins with a sweep picking solo. The chorus is where bassist Keenan shines through in his most standout vocal performance of the album.

This song is definitely worthy of a listen so you can really appreciate the chops these young musicians have. 4.5/5

Song number 9, “New Found World,” is the eeriest song of them all. It begins with a one-minute intro featuring a riff reminiscent of sludge metal, and more sweep picking. In the second verse, instead of hearing the typical high screams, the entire verse is growled in the lower register, which adds another element of scariness. The low-end growling ends in an interesting lyric:

Swallow your pride and choke

The song ends the way it began: a near minute-long performance by Stanger. 3.5/5

The next track, “A206” continues the darkness of “New Found World” with its opening riff. The bass is barely audible as Stanger plays away on his riff before the vocals come in with an angry lyric:

I cannot make you see this!

I cannot make you understand!

When Stanger takes a solo, the bass, once again, sounds drone-y and un-amplified. After the verse and a bridge, Stanger comes in with an alternate picking section before a breakdown, which I found unnecessary. And then … another solo full, again, of sweep picking, with the bass being of little help. After the empty solo, the chorus re-enters, before the song ends on a riff full of hammer-ons and pull-offs. This track feels like filler. 1/5

Song 10, “The Past Erased,” starts with two riffs that might remind some of Avenged Sevenfold. When the vocals come in, they scream of repent and religious topics. From what I can pick up:

Rejoice!

My brother will be saved

The past has been erased

I am left to my mistakes

Where I de-value the score of this song is in the extremely long breakdown section. The same breakdown is repeated four times before the excitement picks up again with the solo. Thankfully, this solo is backed up by a rhythm guitar, filling out the sound. When the solo ends, there is a re-intro that will give you goosebumps. The song ends with Zach screaming:

I’m not a perfect man

I’ll never be like you.

A very emotional song. 4.5/5

The second to last song, “(Tearing Down) My Effigy,” starts with a breakdown with the bass drums following the guitar. In the second verse the guitarist sweep picks underneath. Sweep picking, by this point in the album, is annoying. Next comes a breakdown, similar to the intro, and then … more sweep picking. Even more breakdowns de-value this song, until finally the song ends with … sweep picking. Another filler. 1/5

The finale to “To Those Who Stand Alone,” “The Ol’ Setchyup” is a very awkward song, with unconventional guitar effects. Rebellious lyrics are screamed throughout. The song takes a cheesy turn in the solo, sounding like something from American Bandstand: a groovy, Austin Powers-type dance-y solo: a complete 180 and completely unnecessary. The ending of the song is an alien barrage of wah effects. This song could easily have been left off the album, as it is too far out from the rest of the songs. 2/5

I give this album a 3/5 because these guys wrote some killer songs, but some could’ve been left off. The riffs are near-expertly written, the high screams of Chancellor sound refined, and the drummer is a clear standout, as his stamina throughout the album is evident.

As for cons, it seems the guitarist, Stanger, prefers to sweep pick. Although he is nearly a virtuoso guitar player, it would be nice to hear more variety in his solos. Also, breakdowns. I know this is typical of metalcore/progressive metal, but seriously? How many breakdowns can be in one song? (i.e. “(Tearing Down) My Effigy”). The bass plays a very small part in the album, barely heard throughout the album’s 52 minute duration. It would be a more well rounded sound with the addition of a rhythm guitarist. And finally, its occasional cheesiness, most prominent in the solo of “The Ol’ Setchyup,” though a few of the album’s riffs also sound like ripoffs of Avenged Sevenfold and metalcore standards (i.e. “Forever Isn’t Going to Happen Today”).

Overall a good listen for people who are fans of Animals as Leaders, Between the Buried, and Me and Lamb of God.

 

Gabriel is a high school student and musician in the Twin Cities metro.

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