[EDITOR’S NOTE: Today we have another album review from our guest contributor Andy Synn about the brand new album from a band near and dear to our own hearts . . .The Crown. Back in July, we hyperventilated about the band’s release of a song from the then-forthcoming album, and provided a brief history of the band (that post is here). Now, the album is here, and so is Andy’s review. ]
Do you like metal? Do you specifically like metal that is fast, heavy and so aggressive you’re actually slightly afraid to touch the cd with your bare hands?
If the answer is yes, stop reading this review. You don’t need to know any more. Simply get up and go buy the new album by The Crown. You won’t be disappointed.
Doomsday King is a masterpiece of wild fury and calculated aggression. Blurring the lines between razor-sharp thrash and full-speed death metal, the 5 members of The Crown (now including new vocalist Jonas Stålhammar) have all brought their ‘A’ game back to the table with this one. The ominous tolling bell that heralds the start of title-track “Doomsday King” immediately brings to mind the darker tonality of “Crowned Unholy”, before shifting into the band’s trademarked full-speed assault.
Immediately, the vocals of Stålhammar put to rest any misgivings I might have had about replacing Johan Lindstrand as his high-energy delivery, whilst being highly reminiscent of elements of both his predecessors (Lindstrand and Tomas Lindberg), is noticeably darker and perhaps even a shred more aggressive than either. (more after the jump, including a track . . .)
The production is also a huge plus, massive yet organic, everything sounding simultaneously as clean and as dirty as one could want (although the bass has taken more of a back-seat from the Possessed 13 days).
“Angel Of Death 1839” recalls prime-Slayer, both in title and in melody, but is played with such vigour that any band (let alone the thrash legends) would be left in the dust. “Age Of Iron” ramps up the death metal side of the band and is one of my favourite tracks on the cd as a result — catchy vocals and lyrics coupled to a great lead break and insanely intense drumming. Follow-up “The Tempter And The Bible Black” is a slow-burner reminiscent of “Dead Man’s Song” or “Bow To None” and provides some light and shade to the disc’s first half.
“Soul Slasher” is perhaps the most stock-The Crown song so far, but is executed with meticulous precision and possesses a killer main-riff hook. “Blood O.D.” and “Through Eyes Of Oblivion” once again pile on the death metal feel of the material, mixing in far more blasting amongst the power-house riffing, the former having a killer chorus-hook, whilst the latter has a second half in which all meters are pushed into the red, giving the listener a real sense of the extremity and potential violence at the heart of the band.
The dizzying riff at the start of “Desolation Domain” is a mere forewarning of the madness to come, the band still pushing forward at top speed, only to grind out a dark and surprisingly melodic mid-song slowdown that is then bookended by a further full-speed assault, Stålhammar continuing to sound legitimately enraged and possessed behind the mic.
“From The Ashes I Shall Return” is once again more of their death metal based material, constantly flirting with a melodic edge that never fully appears, eventually smothered beneath layers of dark, atonal guitars. Final track “He Who Rises In Might – From Darkness To Light” tears right out of the gates at full-pelt (as have most of the tracks, to be honest) before riding a more melodic, tremolo-picked series of lead lines without sacrificing speed or heaviness in doing so. The outro-mix of tremelo’d guitars and fantastic drum work make for a brilliant ending to a hugely successful album.
If you’ve got the digipack version, you also get a bonus disc with 4 songs, which are all worth the extra money in their own way. “Die Before Dying” is a cover of a Valcyrie song with a much more old-school feel that would have seen it fit perfectly on the early Crown records, whilst “In Bitterness And Sorrow” and “Kill (2010)” are both re-recordings of material from the band’s days as “Crown Of Thorns”, the former having a more melodic death-metal feel similar to early Dark Tranquillity/At The Gates, whilst the latter is an all-out blast of fury that (still) barely breaks the 1:30 mark before it crashes and burns in the most spectacular manner possible. Love it.
“Falling ‘Neath The Heaven’s Sea” is initially a real surprise, beginning with a strummed clean guitar-melody (I can understand why this wasn’t included on the album proper, as the band may have felt it would have ruined the otherwise all-out aggressive flow of their songs) before breaking into a moody stomp, replete with “Crowned Unholy”-esque keyboards and an overall more melancholy sense of atmosphere. A surprise yes, but definitely a pleasant one.
Overall this album is everything you could have hoped — the riffs are hard and evil, the guitar leads shred and rip, the vocals are heavy, Satanic and memorable, and the drums rarely break from an all-out punishing assault. This should be on many a year-end list come December.
The Crown is dead… long live The Crown!!!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We like to give our readers an immediate taste of the music we write about, and this is no exception. Here’s one of the exceptional tracks from Doomsday King]