Comebacks. They ain’t so easy to pull off. For every band that produces a glorious reunion album there are four that crash, burn and damage their legacy. Earlier this summer we were blessed by an unexpectedly great reunion album from Accept and now Sweden’s The Crown have pulled off an equally monstrous comeback with Doomsday King. This is their first since 2006’s Possessed 13 and first with new vocalist Jonas Stalhammar (God Macabre) stepping in for Johan Lindstrand. However, make no mistake, this is The Crown of old and they’re storming with menace and out for blood! This is such a furious thrash/death assault that it’s hard to believe these guys were out of action for so long. Whatever they were doing during their down time, it obviously pissed them off and now they need to hurt somebody.
Harkening all the way back to the ferocity of 2002’s Crowned in Terror, The Crown roar back to life with a purpose on the opening title track and never ease up. This is true old school vicious Swedish death/thrash as it should be done. Ripping and shredding riffs, thunderous drum pummeling and Stalhammar’s deathy gurgle and snarl, all coming together to batter and bruise the listener. Even when they slow things down to a mid-paced rumble, as on “The Tempter and Bible Black,” the heavy factor remains high with ugly riffs and gurgling vox that just won’t stop. As vicious as all this is, the riffs and choruses are at times actually pretty memorable and in a weird way, catchy. I hesitate to call this melodic but in its own way it is.
One thing is for certain, when The Crown decided to return from metal oblivion they made sure to pack a suitcase full of bad ass riffs. Across Doomsday King guitarists Marko Tervonen and Marcus Sunesson function like a thrash/death riff generator set to overdrive. One beastly riff after another rattles you and keeps things brutal but highly enjoyable.Â Meanwhile, new throat Stalhammar displays an excellent rasp and manages to put his stamp on the songs, while remaining close to style of his predecessors. I would be remiss if I let the percussive talents of Janne Saarenpaa go unmentioned, since the man beats himself senseless on his kit and provides a mammoth backbone for the thrash maelstrom.
There are highlights aplenty on Doomsday King and nothing really to find fault with. Highlights among the highlights include the frenzied thrash of “Angel of Death 1839″ and “Soul Slasher,” the amazingly cool solo work on “Age of Iron,” and aforementioned grind of “The Tempter,” which brings to mind Tapping the Vein era Sodom. Now don’t get the wrong idea by the Sodom reference. While The Crown’s style is tried and true, nothing here sounds dated in the least, and this is NOT a retro album of any sort. All this material sounds fresh, urgent, powerful and totally relevant in today’s metal world. Another success is the production, which is appropriately focused on guitars, with a nasty, distorted bite.
What else can be said to convince you metal hordes? The Crown has emerged from hibernation sounding more fierce and vicious than ever and this is clearly a rejuvenated, refreshed and hungry bunch, looking to show the world what Swedish death/thrash is all about. This may be their heaviest work yet and it’s undoubtedly one of their best. Everybody loves a successful comeback and this one sure as hell is! Place this toward the top of the list for best albums of 2010.