I first came across Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, aka The Crystal Method, rather belatedly a few years ago when heavy metal heroes P.O.D. re-released their masterstroke Satellite album with a bonus CD of remixes. The Crystal Method’s version of Boom was a smouldering mix of beats and heavy rock that made the seemingly endless comparisons of the Las Vegan-via-Los Angeles duo to The Chemical Brothers pointless.
Don’t expect such industrial rock warfare here, though, at least not in the traditional sense of the term. Legion Of Boom is industrial in that the relentless robotic beats in Starting Over and True Grit conjure up images of city tower blocks and desolate urban spaces, shot through the lens of a camera inside a high-speed car. And with the hard-edged beats and hypnotic synthesised swirls, most of the tracks certainly do rock too. Just without guitars.
Having said that, former Limp Bizkit man Wes Borland adds his six-string prowess to three of the tracks here, most noticeably on the punnily-titled Weapons Of Mass Distortion. Here, the high-pitched feedback in the intro builds a real sense of anticipation before some really heavy metal guitar and, yes, block rockin’ beats kick the door down. Oh yes, we like this one.
Where The Crystal Method do resemble The Chemical Brothers is in their varied choice of über-cool vocalists. John Garcia, he of legendary stoner metal band Kyuss, adds a crazed vocal to current single Born Too Slow; The Roots‘ remarkable human beatbox Rahzel – “the godfather of noyze” to me and you – weighs in on another three; social performance artist Hanifah Walidah gives it some on Bound Too Long and Wide Open; and the seemingly ubiquitous Bellrays gal Lisa Kekaula gets soulful on High And Low and one of the standout tracks – Realizer – where the contrast between her and the defiant nature of the lyrics, beats and synths somehow work a treat.
The ace up their collective sleeve, however, is getting famed actress Milla Jovovich to add vocals to I Know It’s You. Her surprisingly ethereal, Eastern-flavoured lines float while very loud, careering keyboards loom menacingly overhead. You could say she sounds like she’s in her (fifth) element…
It doesn’t all work, mind. Too often the tracks feel like they’ve been going for an awfully long time. Sometimes they have (Wide Open and Bound Too Long, which is simply Around Too Long), but on other occasions you look at the timer and the track is less than three minutes old. In other words, The Crystal Method don’t always hold our attention as they should, something that is partly a product of each track being mainly instrumental, and partly because some of the choons just aren’t strong enough.
But when they get it right and keep it succinct, as in the middle triumvirate of Realizer, Broken Glass and Weapons…, you can do little else but nod your head in time with the robotic synths, turn up the hi-fi dial and test the double glazing with the thumping beats and mesmerising bass-lines.
In short, The Crystal Method aren’t America’s answer to The Chemical Brothers, as we’re often told – they’re more like their less commercially-minded, obtuse older siblings. Legion Of Boom isn’t perfect, but as the Chemicals have done, it’s got a decent chance of crossing over into the CD collections of non-dance, indie and rock aficionados. Approach with an open mind.