Crown the Empire
Crown The Empire spent a decade walking the tightrope between hard rock, screamo, and breakdown-driven metal, swinging wildly between styles across metalcore classic The Fallout and radio-banger Sudden Sky. On album number five, their first full-length in nearly as many years, the quartet split the difference with spectacular splendor. DOGMA is as decisively heavy as “Makeshift Chemistry” and as catchy as “BLURRY (out of place),” shimmering with melody and groove.
Each passionate component that drove The Fallout (2012), The Resistance: Rise of the Runaways (2014), Retrograde (2016), and Sudden Sky (2019) to nearly 700 million collective streams is delivered on DOGMA, streamlined and stunning. It’s a sound that saw Crown The Empire on magazine covers early in their career, a spirit that built an audience on tours with Slipknot, Falling In Reverse, Dance Gavin Dance, The Used, Pierce The Veil, Underoath, Asking Alexandria, One OK Rock, and more. Now, the young kings of the later-era Warped Tour enter a fresh chapter.
Songs like “what i am,” “Machines,” “Johnny Ringo,” and “Millennia” are certified subculture anthems with crossover appeal. DOGMA songs like “Immortalize,” “Black Sheep,” “In Another Life” (featuring Courtney LaPlante of Spiritbox), and “Superstar” (featuring Palaye Royale’s Remington Leith) now enter the Crown The Empire canon, as what came before coalesces into what’s next.
“We brought back the classic elements of Crown without taking anything away from what we’ve done more recently,” explains longtime bassist and screamer Hayden Tree. “The high-energy, fast-paced, hard-hitting riffs, with the band’s more melodic side, mashed together into an updated sound.”
Andy Leo (vocals), Brandon Hoover (guitar), and Tree sound fully engaged on DOGMA, a diverse album fueled by angst, existential identity, isolation, and determination. Together with drummer Jeeves Avalos, who started touring with the band in 2021, Crown The Empire kicks off a new era.
Collectively, the band took steps to learn more about themselves when touring ground to a halt during the worldwide shutdown of 2020 and 2021. A newfound sense of self is reflected particularly in Leo’s prose. “More theatrical or colorful lyrics could sometimes make things convoluted,” he says. “The pandemic caused a lot of introspection and a shift in priorities as individuals and as a group. The lyrics are less wordy and lofty. It’s more honest and direct.”
DOGMA is both haunting and haunted, thanks in no small part to some paranormal experiences. Holed up in the Hollywood Hills, Leo felt like a ghost of his former self. Plagued by manic dreams, he began to see things he couldn’t explain. A friend even saw a ghost. It turned out that an actress from the 1920s once occupied that house and died when she was roughly Leo’s age. “In Another Life,” the first song the band wrote for the new album, explores the associated emotions.
“Dancing with the Dead” originated during Leo’s lowest point in quarantine. Reflecting on Lucifer’s famous line in John Milton’s Paradise Lost – “better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven” – the singer briefly surrendered to the endless loop of lockdown. Fittingly, it’s the first Crown The Empire song without any “clean” vocals whatsoever, pairing Leo and Tree’s anguished screams together.
At the heart of CTE is a meaningful exploration of emotion and authentic connection with crowds, one culled from the deepest reaches of the band members’ life experiences and passions. What began with YouTube clips posted by high-school friends in Dallas grew to 130M views on the platform and multiple Billboard chart triumphs, including a Number 1 debut on the Rock Charts.
Alternative Press heralded Crown The Empire as the “Best Breakthrough Band” not long after the group’s inception in Texas. They quickly lived up to that reputation, saluted alternately as thrilling, dynamic, and progressive by Rock Sound, Kerrang!, Loudwire, Outburn, and other media.
A celebrated headliner in clubs and theaters around the globe, Crown The Empire emphasizes showmanship and connective presence, always fusing its energy with the audience. The band takes as many imaginative cues from cinematic storytelling as they’ve drawn from Linkin Park, Slipknot, and My Chemical Romance, injecting ambitious genre cross-pollination into their work.
DOGMA bravely explores themes of interdependence and reliance on one another, skills developed over the decade-plus of being in a group together since their teens. It’s a full-circle moment stretching back to the beginning of the band and the hidden meaning behind their logo.
“We’ve never really explained it to our fans, but the symbol we designed represents unity amongst everyone,” Tree reveals. “The cog represents the wheels that keep turning in the world. The idea is that anyone, from any walk of life, can do anything they set their mind to do. It’s the reason we called the very first EP Limitless. We had a dream of this band and collectively fought to make it a reality. The crown means that anyone can conquer, and everyone is welcome. We’re a family.”