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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

††† (Crosses) – ††† (Crosses) Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 02.28.2014

My 2014 Reviews:
Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust EP [8.0]
Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0]
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0]
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0]
Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0]
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0]
You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth [5.5]
Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides [6.5]
Of Mice and Men - Restoring Force [8.0]
Within Temptation - Hyrda [8.5]
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow [8.0]
The Rifles - None the Wiser [5.0]
Skindred - Kill the Power [7.0]
Katy B - Little Red [9.0]
The Family Rain - Under the Volcano [7.0]
Clare Maguire - Clare Maguire EP [7.0]
Behemoth - The Satanist [7.0]
Wild Beasts - Present Tense [10.0]
Beck - Morning Phase [9.5]
Issues - Issues [7.0]
Fanfarlo - Let's Get Extinct [4.0]
The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever [3.5]
Indica - Shine [5.0]
Grand Magus - Triumph and Power [6.0]
Nina Nesbitt - Peroxide [9.0]
††† (Crosses) - ††† (Crosses) [6.5]
Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron [8.0]

††† (Crosses) is:
Chino Moreno – vocals, guitar
Shaun Lopez – guitar
Chuck Doom – various

††† (Crosses)††† (Crosses)

Track listing:
1. This is a Trick
2. Telepathy
3. Bitches Brew
4. Thholyghst
5. Trophy
6. The Epilogue
7. Bermuda Locket
8. Frontiers
9. Nineteen Ninety Four
10. Option
11. Nineteen Eighty Seven
12. Blk Stallion
13. Cross
14. Prurient
15. Death Bell
Running time: 56:24

I guess to begin with we should talk about the whole “†” thing. First of all, in the album's track listing, every “t” is marketed as a “†.” The group's name is “†††” but it is pronounced “Crosses.” For my sanity, I shall refer to the band as Crosses and uses “t” whenever I discuss a particular song. Because of the use of such imagery the band is often described as having witch house influences, a theory that is dispelled as soon as you actually listen to the music, which is predominantly alternative and electronic rock. With the formalities out of the way, Crosses is the self-titled debut project by the side project Chino Moreno, of Deftones fame. This debut full-length is a long time coming, as the band has been around a while, having previously released two five-track EPs. Frustratingly, two-thirds of that material reappears here, primarily unedited . The record follows a format of a track from EP1, a track from EP2 and a new track. So if you've been paying attention, you'll have heard the majority of this record before you've popped the disc into your player, if you're still into that kind of thing.

Anyone who has followed Moreno through his time with Deftones will be aware of his far-reaching tastes and influences. They are apparent in all Deftones records, which goes without saying for a band who arose during the nu-metal genre, released the tantalising White Pony before fading away, only to make a scintillating comeback with Diamond Eyes and last year's Koi No Yokan. Moreno's also never been one who shies away from wearing his heart on his sleeve. As such, it should come as no surprise that Moreno's pours his all into this record. His vocal stands front and center of a record that it is far more accessible than I personally ever imagined. The vocals are clean and challenging in a way that makes you think about the words presented to you. Lyrically, it's as dark a record as Moreno has ever been responsible for, there's songs about love, death, strippers, and the love and death of strippers. It's all a bit doom and gloom most of the time, but there's uplifting moments (“Cross”). When Moreno does let out a trademark wail, it's one the more meaningful and ultimately more powerful. Part of the reason the vocals works so well is because they're centered around these chugging riffs that highlight the lyrics rather than detract from them.

Crosses is a multi-layered affair that bathes in the glory of dream pop while still maintain a heavy, dangerous edge. So varied are the textures that unravel from the experimental “Trophy” and “The Epilogue” that we almost forget exactly which Moreno project we're listening to. Truth be told, Crosses fall somewhere in the middle of the lot of them and you can hear the influences throughout. Single “Bitches Brew” is perhaps the heaviest affair, though it doesn't start out that way. The tracks on Crosses have a tendency to start rather slowly and momentarily erupting before clam is restored once again, before one final, all-out assault on the listeners' eardrums. “Bitches Brew” does just that, but in such a charming manner that we can't helped but to be engulfed in its loved as Moreno's croons about “throwing shapes.” The electro-driven vibe of this track is prominent throughout, and well a far cry from the witch house suggestions, it is all a bit gothic, but in a harmless way. You feel like you're in a late night bar and everyone around you is into something weird, but they're respectful enough to not force their fantasies upon you. Everyone here is united because everyone here is unique.

Collaborating with producer Chuck Doom helps to give the record such an eerie vibe, whil Shaun Lopez, formerly of post-hardcore outfit Far, more than brings the good with his own unique brand of slick grooves on the guitar. You can't help but admire the whole lot for their chops, but in terms of finding an audience, it's hard to say where this record sits. Fans of Moreno will likely lap it up, though the same can't be said for all fans of Deftones. The softer, more melancholy moments will appeal to the hipster crowd but the heaviness of the record may turn them away. What the album struggles to establish is an identity. Crosses has several different colours on its considerable pallet, but regularly fails to get the mix quite right. “Death Bell” can't decide whether it's an emotive piano ballad or a synth-driven dose of psychedelica and it ends up being neither. “Option” is a schizophrenic mess of a song, exploding into choruses at the most inopportune instances that often loses the vocal. There are instances of brilliance, but there's also plenty of moments of haphazard happenstance that can't quite be explained by the listener nor the creator.

Crosses - “Bitches Brew”

The 411: Of all of Chino Moreno's many side projects and ventures outside of Deftones, the debut album of Crosses is perhaps his most high-profile and most highly-anticipated. The self-titled record delivers on its mystique, blending haunting electronica with alternative metal guitar shenanigans, with vocals that both energise and relax the audience. The album ebbs and flows in a way that is both unpredictable and also disconcerting, and it's sometimes difficult to know where the whole thing is going. Fans of the band may also be frustrated that the majority of these tracks have been available for the best part of three years, but the quality is there and the potential is there. It's nothing quite like the heights of Diamond Eyes or White Pony but it's a brutally honest record as we've come to expect from Moreno. The man certainly has crosses to bear, and that's what makes Crosses worth listening, even if it doesn't remain in your rotation.
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend


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