Review Summary: The Crown return with a new vocalist, again.
It’s weird to say, but true all the same: death/thrash outfit The Crown have had an inconsistent career as a band, while maintaining, at the same time, a consistent level of high-quality for their studio releases. The Swedes have had this problem of losing vocalists for various reasons throughout the last decade, you see, as well as breaking up on occasion, too. Turns out that At The Gates
’s Tomas Lindberg didn’t exactly fit their mission statement when he left in 2003, and Deathrace King
-hero Johan Lindstrand couldn’t really decide if he wanted to stay with the band or not, departing in 2001 and then in 2004, leaving God Macabre
’s Jonas Stålhammar currently at the mic to front The Crown’s reunion album after a six year hiatus, Doomsday King
. Voices aside, The Crown have never failed to deliver mid-to-fast-paced, bone crushing thrash-death metal from release to release, though, with 2003’s Crowned In Terror
being the strongest of the bunch - but that’s a review for a different album altogether.
One of The Crown's most redeeming qualities, and conversely, a point of which critics often slam the band, is their resiliency to never change their sound, if only slightly from release to release. Metalheads can enter into a The Crown album knowing what to expect, and Doomsday King
is no different in this regard. Even the new addition of Stalhammar does little to change things up; if anything, Stahammar is a pinpoint-perfect mix of past vocalists Lindberg and Lindstrand, certain parts of the album even bringing the prior vocalist quickly to mind. There is, albeit, a slight difference throughout the chaotic, frantic proceedings of Doomsday King
, however, especially when compared to The Crown’s last wholly original release before their hiatus in 2004, 2003’s Possessed 13
(2004’s Crowned Unholy
was only a re-recording of 2002’s Crowned In Terror
): melody and the slower tempos of past albums have been pushed more to the backseat this time, while frantic speeds and brutal growls are pushed further ahead in the album’s equation.
Indeed, this actually keeps Doomsday King
from holding the same power as past releases, though. The album has a very same-y sound throughout, albeit frantic and brutal. This is unfortunate, as the band members themselves, and especially drummer Janne Saarenpaa, put on a dazzling, head-banging performance. But halfway into the album, you will begin to lose track of the songs being played: they all sound too
similar. This is not wholly the case with the first half of the album, though, as the title track and the following cut, “Angle of Death 1839”, mark a strong return to form for The Crown, Stalhammar throwing in a tickling of melody to drive the force of the band through the prior, while on the latter, The Crown let loose what may be their most hectic and breakneck-speeds track yet. “Slow Slasher” begins its chaos with one hell of an opening riff, too, surely to stick in the minds of all those attentive, and “The Tempter and the Bible Black” shows a rare place where Doomsday King
actually slows down, while, unfortunately, throwing several extreme metal lyrical clichés through the singer's mouth as well.
It’s in the second half of Doomsday King
that listeners have to force themselves to pay attention to what The Crown are actually doing here. Though, to be fair, the riffs and solos are unique from those of the first half, they just sound too similar. And since The Crown have opted to give melody a backseat for this release, it’s rather hard for much of what’s to be found here to stick in the minds of listeners. “Desolation Domain” also suffers from lyrical clichés and uninspired song progressions, and likewise, “He Who Rises In Might”, save the stark audio incline at the end of the song, closes the album off in a dull way. While well-played, brutal, and being certainly of
The Crown, Doomsday King
doesn’t meet up to The Crown’s past standards of excellence. This isn’t the fault of new voice Stalhammar either – he’s more than apt at handling the job – it’s more to do with The Crown’s hesitant focus and the negation of melody, leading to an album that’s both unmemorable and rather disappointing for The Crown fans everywhere.