The Crown - Death is not Dead 01Honestly, I haven’t been excited for a new release from The Crown in a long time. For one, the quality of their releases has slowly declined since their epic Hell Is Here debut back in 1999. Over the years, members have come and gone and many of the founding members have branched out to other projects to explore or expand on their sound in bands like Marko Tervonen’s Angel Blake and Johan Lindstrand’s One Man Army and the Undead Quartet. Some of these comings-and-goings prompted the band to bring in Tomas Lindberg to cover vocal duties on Crowned in Terror [2002] and Jonas Stålhammar (God Macabre and the short-lived Dobermann) to rasp it out on 2010s Doomsday King. The former album was then re-released as Crowned Unholy when Lindstrand returned and replaced Lindberg’s growls with his own, and the latter album was a somewhat disappointing comeback for the band after a six-year absence (for those that disagree with my feelings toward Doomsday King, know that Steel Druhm has been whipping my ass all over the office for my “blasphemous” statements). But now, The Crown is at it again and, after a decade of absence, Lindstrand has taken his rightful place on the throne. Will life-long fans of The Crown finally get that comeback they truly deserve? Can The Crown prove to the metal community that Death Is (indeed) Not Dead?

Within the first few seconds of “Headhunter,” they not only show that Death Is Not Dead, but The Crown crowns you so fucking hard that you’ll never question them again. “Headhunter” incorporates everything that The Crown does best; neck-breaking Hell Is Here and Deathrace King-like thrash, gargantuan death chugs that crush your bones and transform your body into a sack of skin, and melodic moments that borrow from the likes of At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Witchery, and The Haunted. The songwriting is memorable and inspired, the sound is heavy-as-fuck, the solos are perfectly placed, and Lindstrand’s vox are earthshattering.

If you’re looking for some of that classic The Crown thrash, look no further than the aforementioned “Headhunter,” “Speed Kills (Full Moon Ahead),” and “Horrid Ways” (the latter has the most badass riff of the album). Never to be outdone, the death elements in their songs are rib bruising. They come down hard and fast, refusing to let up until your pathetic lungs collapse. Examples include the crushing steamrollers that are “Iblis Bane,” “Struck by Lightning” and “Herd of Swine.” The standout in this respect is “Herd of Swine;” where Tervonen proves his abilities behind the kit are on par with his abilities on the fretboard. Throw in the killer intro by longtime bassist Magnus Olsfelt and some guitar support from newbie Robin Sörqvist, and “Herd of Swine” tramples you with its little pig feet. Add some of the best melodic leads and solos yet written by the band and you get highlight tracks like “Ride To Ruin” (which sounds like Goatwhore sexed up The Crown) and “Meduseld.” They just feel so damn good.

The Crown - Death is not Dead 02

But these riffs hold no weight without the barks, rasps, and growls of Lindstrand. His vocal contributions are equivalent to knocking down a house and then setting the rubble on fire. This may seem unnecessary, but you’re wrong. Without fire, it’s just another wrecked building. Be it the Angelripper-like barks on “Iblis Bane,” the anguished roars in the cover of Paradise Lost’s “Eternal,” or the goosebump-inducing grunts at the end of “Herd of Swine,” Lindstrand sounds better and meaner than he has in years.

While Death Is Not Dead is an absolute delight, the production is not. Thankfully the mix is decent and allows every instrument to add their weight to the devastation, but the brickwalling causes The Crown to rattle on your head at times. However, the quality and modernism in the sound beats the shit out of the production found in most of their catalog. And though Death Is Not Dead is not overly long, when “Meduseld” comes to an end, I find myself feeling content. Not only is “Meduseld” one of the best death metal instrumentals I’ve heard in a long time, it’s also the perfect way to close out the album. Actual closer “Godeater” is their weakest track and feels like a letdown after “Meduseld.” Aside from these issues, Death Is Not Dead is a killer album and the proper comeback for longtime fans.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media Records
Websites: The Crown Official | Facebook.com/TheCrown
Release Dates: EU: 2015.01.12 | NA: 01.13.2015

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  • André Snyde Lopes

    Never heard of these guys before but I think I’ll check them out. The embedded track sounded somewhat simplistic in composition and structure but that guitar tone and the vocals sound oh so great.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I agree with the simplistic songwriting here. It carries throughout the album. Which makes the songs more memorable, in my opinion.

    • Luke_22

      Definitely check out their older stuff. Hell is Here, Deathrace King and Crowned in Terror (with Tomas Lindberg on vox) are damn near unstoppable slabs of death/thrash excellence.

    • JL

      I agree with the others. The older material is better, especially Crowned in Terror, which I think is their best record.

      But give this a chance. The single is very simplistic and I was shocked when I heard it and preparing myself for a shitty album. Actually, the record is pretty much blistering throughout. Nothing groundbreaking but quite well done overall.

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Is the cover suppose to be some kind of “badass” pinball game?

    • Because of that cover now I want a big metal band to have a themed table on the Pinball FX game

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        That is actually a dynamite idea

        • Pinball FX 2 has a buttload of famous IP’s from Marvel to euro football, I don’t think it would be too difficult for them to create something for the big wigs in metal.

      • Didn’t Slayer do something like that already?

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Reign Pin Blood???

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Divine Pintervention?? eh? eh?

        • Yeah apparently they have a pinball game for mobile devices it seems. I’m more of a PC dude so I just thought of the most popular pinball game I know.

  • hophead84

    “the quality of their releases has slowly declined since their epic Hell Is Here debut back in 1999.” This is the first time I’ve heard someone say this. They were their best on their albums after their debut (less Doomsday King). The new album is okay at best compared to their other stuff. Janne Saarenpää’s amazing drumming was half the band’s sound. With him stepping out and the guitarist, Marko Tervonen, doing the drumming, the new album seriously suffers. It’s a baffling decision. The drums are very sad.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Just my opinion. And I agree that the drums aren’t as good as they have been but they could have been worse…

      • Benoit Trottier

        I’m with angrier on this, Hell is here is a killer album. Been in my car for 15 years. (gotta Watch my speed when I listen to it)

    • oggock

      Yeah I’ve never heard anyone else say that Hell Is Here was their crowning achievement. Deathrace King and Crowned in Terror are far better albums.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Can’t explain it. I love Hell Is Here.

        • hophead84

          It’s a great album!

        • oggock

          Yeah, it’s good. Everything prior to Doomsday King is good, as far as I’m concerned. I just find it strange that anyone would say that Deathrace King is a step down; that album is a classic.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Don’t get me wrong. It’s great. I currently have my copy in the car and have been listening to it for the last couple weeks but I just like Hell Is Here better.

      • hophead84

        Those albums, along with Possessed 13, are the pinnacle of the genre.

  • oggock

    Their debut is The Burning from 1995. Hell Is Here is their 3rd album. Good research, m8.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      That’s correct. When they were called Crown of Thorns. I am talking about The Crown here. I understand where you are coming from but I am trying to keep it specific to what the band has done under the The Crown moniker.

      • hophead84

        It’s all the same band. They HAD to change their name.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I get it. I tried to keep it simple. Thanks for the note and explanation.

    • El_Cuervo

      The first under their new name. They obviously wanted to be distinguished from the old brand for whatever reason, so I think his statement stands

      • hophead84

        They changed their name because the U.S. band Crown of Thorns threatened legal action. It had nothing to do with wanting to change their sound or identity. Though, their earlier albums have a decided Gothenburg tinge .

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      cared no one ever

      • hophead84

        I love the In Flames debut “Colony”. Probably the best debut ever.

    • Kryopsis

      Storm in a teacup incoming. Brace yourselves people, we’re in for a rough one!

  • hophead84

    Can we get a rereview by someone else? ;)

    (jk Grier. All in good fun)

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Nice!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      No worries! :) I appreciate the info and opinions. Sorry our opinions aren’t the same!

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Review is really positive? 4 outta 5 at AMG is very respectable.

  • Antoine Roth

    I gotta say, at first this record left me unimpressed. My biggest complaints were the muddled and brickwalled production, and the drumming, uninspired and lacking punch. Those complaints remain, but the guitar work, song writing and bigger use of melody compared to the last record make me like Death is not Dead more and more. So many awesome riffs :).

    Btw, I agree with the other commentators, Hell is Here is great, but Deathrace King and Crowned in Terror are even better, truly two of the best Death Metal records of all time. Possessed 13 left me completely cold on the other hand.

  • Luke_22

    Nice review dude. Didn’t take much notice that the once mighty The Crown were back writing new material. Very interested to hear how it all pans out. At their best this band is phenomenal, but when they misfire you’re left with Possessed 13. This has also inspired me to bust out Deathrace King for the first time in many moons.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thanks man. Yeah, this is definitely a step up from Possessed 13.

  • AndySynn

    Man, I loved Doomsday King. Still do. I think it, and this one, are pretty much on a par. Not 100% killer, but at least 75-80%.

    This one I definitely felt the second half (barring the instrumental) was stronger. The four-song shotgun blast of “Speed Kills” through “Ride to Ruin” is just an awesome brace of material. I love “Godeater” too, actually.

    Though, does anyone else think Johan sounds a little different this time around? A tad raspier maybe? Not massively so, just enough to make me notice it.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Firstly, I enjoyed your review Andy. Even though we don’t completely see eye to eye :) Secondly, he does sound a bit different here. Much tougher and raspier, I think. And then there’s stuff like “gaaaawwwwd-eater” that is just mean sounding. Good stuff.

      • AndySynn

        I’m glad it’s not just me. Again, it’s not a deal-breaker or anything, it was just instantly something I noticed, so I had to go back and re-listen to some of his previous stuff to double-check I wasn’t hearing things wrong!

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I definitely hear it. I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. I actually think it helps this album.

  • funeraldoombuggy

    “However, the quality and modernism in the sound beats the shit out of the production found in most of their catalog.” WTF!!?! You make it sound like their records don’t usually sound good… Deathrace is one of the best metal recordings ever and many of their other records sound pretty awesome also.

    “Over the years, members have come and gone…” They really haven’t had that many line up changes until recently.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    This review was great and made me more excited for my preorder to show up, bit it didn’t answer the most important question: is any song on here as recklessly badass as “Deathexplosion”?

  • JL

    Nothing will beat Crowned in Terror. I have this but haven’t listened properly yet. I’m excited for it, as the last one was sort of meh.

  • RF2000

    The music might be pretty good, but the mastering job FUCKING SUCKS! I’ve rarely heard so much audible clipping on a disc. I will never listen to it a second time.