You’d think if a band is going to make a concept album about a troubled future, there’s no better time to set it than the present. Doing things the obvious way isn’t Crossfaith’s style, though.
“There are so many reasons we decided to set it in the future,” says frontman Kenta ‘Ken’ Koie of Ex Machina, the Japanese band’s fifth album and the follow-up to 2015’s critically acclaimed Xeno. “Our attitude has always been that we should be constantly pushing to make something different. The idea of a futuristic sci-fi world not only excites out intellectual curiosity; it allows us to pose questions about our future that also affect our present.”
Ex Machina is set in an alternative near future in which the ruling class, known as Angels, maintain their world through artificial intelligence and other technology, which dehumanises people and effectively turns them into drones – as explained in the opening title track, Deus Ex Machina.
This, and the other 12 songs Crossfaith have written for the album represent the voice of the resistance – in the form of underdogs known as Demons. Ken was inspired to include these figures by Devilman Crybaby, particularly on the Slipknot-esque Catastrophe, the frantic, bloodcurdling The Perfect Nightmare and the epic assault of Daybreak, rather than because they wanted to provide a comment on religion.
Ex Machina is certainly a relentless album that strives for the listener’s attention, and is unquestionably the heaviest that Crossfaith have put their name to since forming in their native Osaka in 2006. This is helped in no small part by the addition of some other musicians that share the band’s firebrand status. This includes industrial hip hoppers Ho99o9 – aka New Jersey duo theOGM and Eaddy – who bring their characteristic brand of bile to the pulversising Destroy.