Album review: Crown The Empire – Dogma

Crown The Empire blend into the pack on their fifth album, Dogma.

Album review: Crown The Empire – Dogma
Emma Wilkes

Take a look around – alternative music in 2023 is, at its best, rather extraordinary, isn’t it? In one corner, Spiritbox are sending jaws to the floor with their hefty riffs and Courtney LaPlante’s astoundingly versatile vocals. Lorna Shore have created viral gold out of Will Ramos making sounds it should theoretically not be possible for humans to make. And, love them or hate them, Sleep Token’s audacity to segue from black metal to funk was inspired. The bar for rock and metal is moving higher and higher, and compared to the boundary breaking talent at the forefront of our world, relying on the same old formulas just won’t cut it anymore.

That is the trap Crown The Empire fall into on their fifth album. There’s not a great deal here that you won’t have heard somewhere before – chugging riffs, sparkly electronics, choruses that try to soar but suffer the same fate as one of Elon Musk’s rockets. The execution can be decent – Modified storms in with some nicely spiky riffs and a muscular chorus, while Dancing With The Dead, the heaviest offering here, feels genuinely incandescent. Indeed, the bursts of heaviness across the album are generally the strongest, purely because they feel the most emotionally loaded and the least over-processed. In Another Life is particularly guilty of being overproduced to the point of artificiality, especially on Courtney LaPlante’s guest verse (and considering the strength of her delivery, it’s rather superfluous).

Dogma also struggles to find something of substance to say. Its eerily electronic title track scrambles for a socially conscious message about authority and obedience but doesn’t quite muster anything of gravity, while Black Sheep tells a tired story about karma claiming victory. The worst it gets, though, is the rather strange guitar pop tune Superstar, a trite, supposed satire of fame ('Imma grow up and be famous / Quit my job, change my name / Imma gon’ buy some fake friends / Get addicted to cocaine,' anyone?) in which the only thing that makes sense is Palaye Royale frontman Remington Leith’s husky guest feature.

Despite its brighter moments, Dogma might well be washed away with the tide in the grand scheme of things, unable to stand out in the brave new world of music in 2023.

Verdict: 2/5

For fans of: Bad Omens, Silverstein, Memphis May Fire

Dogma is out now via Rise

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