LP Review; Crown the Empire: “DOGMA”

Crown the Empire took a crack at trying to break through the packed hard rock scene of 2023, and I can’t say they were fully successful. “DOGMA,” aesthetics alone, resonated to be something completely different for the band. This had me intrigued to see how it would translate to their music, and I must say: I am confused. 

Upon listening, I believe that Crown the Empire provided us with 2 experiences: tracks 1 through 5 and tracks 6 through 10. I found that as I listened to the beginning of the record, there was nothing that stood out to me. The traditional hard rock instrumentation was present, the song template had all the boxes checked off, there was some electronic influences (which I will get to later), and ultimately, none of the songs stuck out to be memorable. Then, we approached “Superstar.” 

Now, “Superstar” is completely different from any other song on the record, and I am not sold on the song as it stands; however, the shift that it provides in the middle of the album- saved it. I felt that during this selection, Crown the Empire was taking a risk of crossing into the modern-alternative genre to provide a melody-driven track. 

As I listen to new music, I will raise my eyebrows when I am like “okay, all right, this is tight, I can work with this,” and for me, I only had a little bit of that during “Immortalize” and “Labyrinth.” I was happy to hear a metal track with “Dancing with the dead.” I felt that they were finally bringing the heat not only through their instrumentation but through the aggression and intensity of the selection. 

I found that throughout this record, Crown the Empire uses a lot of electronics. I don’t mean in a Linkin Park kind of way- think more of “That’s the Spirit” Bring Me the Horizon. Generally speaking, it sounds like there is a radio edit over each track with this underlying static present throughout. Although electronics and synthesizers are all the rage- I wanted something innovative and fresh. To me, the use of electronics here feels similar to over using autotune- it takes away from the music. 

Musically speaking, I found that Crown the Empire provided a lot of contrast as the genre calls for. We had strategic silence, heightened moments of louds and softs, and aggressive vocals to gentle chorus lines. Within this, I found that throughout, Crown the Empire would present a base rhythm, and the instrumentals would play almost the same rhythms with simple ornamentation over top to add a touch of variety. 

One of the reasons that I love hard rock/metal music is for the drama. The contrast the genre supplements is extreme, but that’s what makes it entertaining, and to me, I felt this album didn’t push the ticket enough for us to get there. 

The title of “DOGMA” made me interested as I felt it would be very reflective and retrospective, and lyrically, I think the Crown the Empire provides that, but with music that fades in the background- we lose focus. 

Overall, I am giving this album a 2.5 out of 5 stars. Musically speaking, the record is not bad, and there are a few tracks that I did like, but do I think I will remember them and come back to them? Not likely for me. 

*”DOGMA” was released on April 28th, 2023 through Rise Records.

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