Today we’ll take a look at The Classic Crime’s fourth album, and their first independent album funded via a Kickstarter project the band began. After leaving Tooth & Nail Records the band has become like its album’s namesake and has been reborn from the ashes of its past.
One Man Army begins the album slowly, slowly building into a powerful starting track. The eerie melody of the guitars evolve into strong guitar chords and the slowly building drums transform into a powerful beat as the song reaches it’s climax. Overall this track puts the album off on a great starting note, one can hardly tell this is an independent album release. If this track tells us anything it’s that The Classic Crime is back and ready for action.
You And Me Both starts off strong and is backed by powerful drums and catchy guitar riffs which complement Matt’s soaring vocals to levels we haven’t seen since The Silver Cord. The melodies and lyrics of this song are able to wind themselves around in your mind and stay there. Everything in this song is well put together, whether it be drums, guitars, vocals, lyrics, bass, everything. So far I’m fairly impressed at what the band has to offer the fans who funded the album.
Young Again slows the album down a notch but still manages to exhibit the energy that it’s preceding tracks held. The little touches of piano and synth make this song something to behold. Even in the bridge as the song is stripped down one can appreciate all the details put into the song.
Beautiful Darkside follows up with a haunting guitar intro which continues throughout the song. Gradually new elements to the song are introduced and the song begins to build. The song especially builds in the chorus as Matt sings “I need to find some meaning, something true to believe in” with his voice carried by the increasing rhythms of the instrumentation.
Featuring incredible vocals and a remarkable guitar solo, Heaven and Hell does not disappoint in the slightest. Lyrically speaking, the song is a fairly simple one. The performance of it is astonishing despite this. This track in particular is one of my favorites on the album, beaten only by Glass Houses.
The Precipice is an acoustic song which brings to mind Wake Up (Shipwreck) from the band’s acoustic EP. Around the halfway mark in the song the instrumentation begins to pick up. Lyrically speaking the song is somewhat dark as Matt sings in the chorus “I dreamt I stood on a hill that I wished was a mountain / To look back on all my accomplishments / Well they must have been small because I couldn’t seem to find them / so I took a leap off of the precipice.” The instrumentation in the song is somewhat upbeat and bright however creating an intriguingly enjoyable juxtaposition between the two.
Let Me Die continues the slower pace but it brings back the electric guitars and their gritty chords which leads into a nice transition back into the rest of the album. This song in particular brings memories of the band’s first album, and also of Blindfolded of the band’s acoustic EP. This track is certainly one of the album’s best and is well worth listening to.
Glass Houses brings the album back into full gear. This track quickly became a fan favorite when the band released their album preview, and later the full track. Tracks such as this are what The Classic Crime truly excels with with it’s powerful chorus and it’s haunting yet rememberable bridge. Even though the lyrics in the bridge are merely la’s and da’s it has an eerily remarkable feel to it which leaves an impression upon the listener.
Dead Rose is a song whose meaning is far from the obvious. In an email from the band it was said that the “Dead Rose” in fact symbolizes the band and was written after the band left their record label. Overall the song carries itself well. While there is no chorus, the song’s lyrics are well-written and the line “Dead rose, I don’t love you anymore” (which is the closest to thing to a chorus this song gets) is an effective hook. While this song appears to be passed over by many, it’s well worth a listen to.
Painted Dreams is another song which seems to have been passed over by a number of fans. This song is comparable to the songs on the band’s album “The Silver Chord” and holds it’s own.
What I’d Give Up follows up and begins with a powerful and stirring guitar intro. The chorus of the song has a hook which is bound to get stuck in your head. The song has an overall upbeat feel without being too cheerful and overly exuberant. A combination of excellent instrumental, vocal and lyrical work make this song one of the band’s best yet.
City Of Orphans returns the album to an acoustic styling. The song tells like a story, one of a search for purpose and meaning and reflects upon the lack of God in our modern lives. “This city has no Bible .. We’re all desperately searching for truth” Matt sings, the lyrics carried by the simple acoustic guitar in the background and the eventual introduction of drums and piano as the song nears its end. While the song is quite simple, it is well put together and its simplicity adds to it’s reflective mood.
The album draws to a close riding on a drawn out instrumental with a handful of lyrics thrown on top titled I Will Wait (Outro). Truth be told I was somewhat disappointed by the album’s closing track. While overall Phoenix fairs pretty well, the ending was mediocre to put it simply. The song would have been better off in the middle of the album than as the closing track – it does the album little justice. What I’d Give Up or even City of Oprhans would have done it far more justice as the closing song.
Phoenix is certainly a major improvement overall and easily surpasses Vagabonds, and I may even be as bold to say that it may have surpassed The Silver Chord in greatness. However, the album still leaves much to be desired. While the album does have a few standout tracks such as Beautiful Darkside, and Glass Houses a number of tracks are fairly easy to forget and get buried in the mix. Phoenix certainly does stand above their latest album, and I’m certain that the band will only continue to improve over time.
CCMF rating: 4/5