After a conversation with a friend about power metal, I came to the realization that many of my favorite bands in the genre are cheesy as hell. I’ve come to this slightly ashamed conclusion many times over the years, and as I’ve done before, I pulled out my power metal collection in hopes that all the black, thrash, and death metal hadn’t lessened my love for Tolkien-based nonsense and eight-album concepts about the mighty Metalians. My fears were quickly subdued as I fell into a month-long rut listening to the likes of Helloween, Blind Guardian, Metalium, Demons and Wizards, Iced Earth, and Dream Evil. Still ashamed, but not giving a flying fuck, I scanned the promo bin for more cheese to satisfy my craving. And, behold, I found Demise of the Crown.
Listing references like Avantasia, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, and… Godsmack, one thing can be said of this Canadian five-piece: they’re an odd bunch. Caring little for what people think and caring a lot about playing their brand of rocking, ballady power metal, they grab a discarded potato sack and fill it with hooks, melodies, and chunky riffs. The bag is then shaken vigorously and its contents spilled out in the middle of a wooded prairie; the newly shaped object being a fist-pumping, by-the-numbers, self-titled debut. The result ain’t perfect, but I find myself returning to Demise of the Crown‘s lavish layers of cheesy goodness.
Loaded up and fired up, “We Are Invincible” gets Demise of the Crown rolling with some rocking guitar licks that give-way to some choo-choo chugging. With Ripper Owens-esque prowess, the verses have an air of melody and the subtle harshness in Darren Beadman’s voice make for a perfect setup to the eye-closing, toe-tapping chorus. Unashamedly, this song ends up on repeat quite often. It doesn’t break new ground, but it is some well-balanced power metal. “Don’t Worry” attacks in a similar way, but with a more ballady angle. The melodic guitar solos, the heart-wrenching vocals, and the cloud-parting nature of the chorus are just too much for me to ignore. Along with the acoustic guitars and the zippo-waving “Hotel California”-like closer, “We Are Invincible” and “Don’t Worry” stand as the highlights on the album.
While the opener and the final three tracks of the disc (“Don’t Worry,” “Cold Dead Eyes,” and “Eons”) do well to tap into the catchy, the heavy, and the ballady, the remaining tracks lack many of the elements that make the aforementioned songs great. “Human Denial” follows up “We Are Invincible” with a thrashy Symphony X riff, but the weak (and mostly annoying) chorus extinguishes is power. Also, is that a fucking cowbell I hear? Though Beadman’s vocals on “Save Me” are an interesting cross of Ripper and Ihsahn, and the mid-section Kamelot riffs and Blind Guardian-inspired solo work of “Sides of the Wave” are well executed, these tracks lack the punch found everywhere else on the album. However, the negative impact these songs have on the Demise of the Crown would be lessened if they weren’t all placed back-to-back-to-back on this thirty-minute, seven-track record.
Unfortunately, in combination with this trifecta of lower-tier songs, the production is also disappointingly compressed. The instruments are crystal clear and the mix is decent enough (minus the lack of bass presence), but Demise of the Crown is quite loud. This is most obvious during Beadman’s high-pitched delivery and during many of the squealing guitar solos. Beadman’s voice has good range, combining his Ripper-like foundation with “harsh,” shrieky vocals, but the latter doesn’t always work; especially his completely off-putting Dani Filth impression on “Save Me.” Nevertheless, Demise of the Crown is a good ole power-metal record that does a fine job of forcing hook, line, and sinker straight down your gullet.