‘Sup. I was going to review Contagion but there was a problem. So, I was about to write the last sentence, right? Then I pressed something and the tab closed. I was writing directly in the blog post editor and, well, GBAtemp doesn’t have a confirmation prompt when you leave the page. I’m dumb, I know. That’s why I’m writing this in a proper text editor. Also, u/Album_Dude already reviewed Contagion. He had pretty much the same opinions as mine (except for the super overrated Darkest Hour) and it’s written much more professionally. I absolutely don’t want to write that again since it’s one of the most difficult albums for me. But here we are. In hype of Crystal Mad’s new album releasing on Friday, I’ll review his latest one as a warm-up.
Whilst We’re Young was released in early 2018 on Nightbreed. It contains 4 solo tracks and 3 collabs. The tracks belong to the melodic raw subgenre of hardstyle. In my opinion, the album is terribly underrated. Crystal Mad aims for quality over quantity. We get 7 absolute masterpieces instead of 30 rushed and lazy attempts at low-effort bangers. This is why I prefer smaller albums over huge ones. They are essentially the best the artist has to offer and the quality is much more consistent.
The cover art obviously meets the Nightbreed standards. It’s no Alchemy of course, but it’s still something I’d like to have as a poster. It shows a 5-part crystal on a grid background, with subtle label branding. Everything is kept simple. The blue-on-black color scheme is just perfect for this kind of aesthetic. Hits all the right spots for me, definitely one of my personal favorites last year.
- Higher (w/ Kutski) - This one pretty much came out of nowhere. Kutski is probably the last person you’d expect a raw collab with. He’s mostly a DJ, not a producer. Anyway, this track sets you in the mood for the rest of the album. The mid-intro features an experimental, punchy kick which later goes full-on rawstyle which Nightbreed is known for. After a downtempo bridge section, the melody is fully revealed. The screechy lead sound fits perfectly with the simple structure of the melody. Although I seriously can’t spot Kutski anywhere, this is a great album opener.
- Louder - The second track on the album starts with great vocals, followed by a melody similar to Higher. Overall, it feels like a sequel to the previous track.
- Whilst We’re Young - For some strange reason, the mid-intro of the title track of this album reminds me of Ran-D. That means a polished kick and various screeches. The vocals are great to sing along and the lyrics are a mix of “you only live once” and “keep fighting no matter what”. And guess what? It doesn’t feel forced at all! The melody is a bit more complex than the earlier two and really fits into the theme set by the lyrics.
- Number One Gangstaz (w/ Endymion) - The title and lyrics are so ridiculous that I genuinely had a laugh. Anyway, this might be the most aggressive track on the album and this is made by both the kicks and a simple, hard melody. Might be the punchiest kick here as well.
- Drug To Me - The track starts pretty smoothly with pads, a piano melody and chilly vocals. The build-up is very satisfying. The melody follows the vocals pretty closely and gets backed by a great kick.
- Killers and Drug Dealers - Another pair of ridiculous lyrics and title. But no worries, everything else here is alright. I really like the kick, but the simple screech melody might be too simple to me. The climax is actually an upgraded version of the mid-intro and the second climax is basically climax 1 but twisted. Generally this track is just a little bit below the others.
- How You Feel (w/ Destructive Tendencies) - I admit, I’m not really a fan of DT, but this track is very good. The mid-intro features a tweaked vocal chop on every beat which feels just great. Then we get to the least melodic climax of this album, but the second part of it introduces a simple melody with short notes that fits perfectly to the rest of the track.
Worst track: Killers and Drug Dealers
- Higher (w/ Kutski)
- How You Feel (w/ Destructive Tendencies)
- Whilst We’re Young
This is probably one of the best melodic raw albums ever released, yet the artist and the album are just so underrated. Honestly, I’m hyped enough for the Friday release and I’ll probably review it once it comes out. That said, I really want to see Crystal Mad absolutely smash the charts this year.
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