Deathrace King

The Crown

Metal Blade Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Okay, so I've been real critical of European death metal bands of late. I can't help it - and, if you got the amount of death metal in the mail to review like I do, you'd probably be making some of the same comments I have been recently.

But when it comes to Sweden's The Crown - well, I'm willing to admit that I could have been wrong about some of my generalizations. Their album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Deathrace King contains the kind of originality and excitement that I've found to be lacking in many recent releases of their contemporaries.

So who are these five guys - I mean, besides me rattling off their names as I'll probably do later in the review? Take the darker side of music like Slayer, add in the breakneck pace of a group like Napalm Death - and throw in a touch of irreverence from, oh, let's say Lungbrush, and you've got a band who knows how to create fresh sounds. From the disc's Venom-on-speed opener "Deathexplosion" to the slow build of dark terror of "Killing Star," there's very little about these guys not to like.

It's interesting sometimes to hear the clash of styles, such as the frantic speed metal drumming of Janne Saarenpää below the almost Kiss-like guitar melodies of Marko Tervonen and Marcus Sunesson, all with bassist Magnus Olsfelt thumping away (albeit a little too hidden in the mix at times) and vocalist Johan Lindstrand growling with remarkable clarity. Sure, you still need the lyric sheet at times, but more often than not, Lindstrand makes sure that you can understand his dark rumblings.

As for the dark imagery in Deathrace King, sometimes it doesn't really sound as convincing as, say, Mercyful Fate. I won't question the band's beliefs, but sometimes it feels like there's not a lot of muscle to back up those commitments (though an exception is made for "Dead Man's Song"). But, in The Crown's defense, the music is actually fun to listen to, and it transcends any shortcomings one might want to try to find.

Tracks like "Devil Gate Ride," "Rebel Angel" and "Total Satan" help to assure the listener that Deathrace King is a disc you'll want to keep coming back to over and over again. And, it helps restore my faith in a genre that I once feared could be headed to stagnation. The Crown helps to assure that darker, death metal is by no means dead.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.