- The Crown
There's a lot of rhetoric surrounding the Crown: how it's reshaping metal and how its latest album, Crowned in Terror (Metal Blade), is the greatest thing since Slayer's Reign in Blood -- a comparison made explicit in the press release.
But this isn't an accurate comparison -- and not only because Reign in Blood is the gold standard, the album to which all others will be compared and judged inferior. Sure, the Crown sounds better since original vocalist Johan Lindstrand was replaced by Tomas Lindberg, formerly of At the Gates. But it's only an incremental improvement, since we are still basically talking about death metal here. This isn't tantamount to the Joey Belladonna-John Bush switch that Anthrax pulled. It's more like Cannibal Corpse's vocal change: Only diehards will notice.
The Crown's biggest problem is that it's almost too hard, and like a number of recent records, Crowned in Terror becomes too much to take in all at once. Pressing "play" is like slamming two cinder blocks into the sides of your head, then doing it over and over and over again. Eventually, riffs and choruses and the other components of a successful metal album emerge from the wall of noise and pain, but that's on the third or fourth listen. Live, they're likely to be 10 times as destructive. Maybe that's an endorsement, maybe it's not. One thing's for sure: Five albums in, whatever they're doing, they're doing it on purpose. So swear allegiance to the Crown -- or don't, but expect no mercy either way.