If the cover of the Crown’s Deathrace King was any more of an indicator of the searing contents inside, it should cue the observant metalhead that the album indeed will be a very stylish and death-laden ride. But the kind of style Sweden’s the Crown exude is a unique culmination of Priest-ian class, Motorhead-ish grit, and the stun potential of their native country’s death-metal scene; hell, guitarist Marcus Sunesson thanks both Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman and W.A.S.P.’s Chris Holmes for inspiration – now that’s fuckin’ cool.
No matter what parallel you draw, the Crown’s fourth album is high-speed and highly effective, the quintet not wasting a breath in revving up their engines in preparation for that long, thorny road to Hell, their dime-tight cohesion (really, that’s an understatement — none tighter than these guys) making it that much easier for them to slay as many bystanders as they want. And even if you’re more than a mere bystander (i.e., a seasoned death-metal listener), there’s just no preparing for the onslaught the Crown deliver here, Sunesson and fellow six-stringer Marko Tervonnen firing off blazingly precise yet mentally ingraining riffs in tandem, not unlike classic At The Gates (former vocalist Thomas Lindberg even guests on “Devil Gate Ride”). Meanwhile, drummer Janne Saarenpaa often peppers his inhumanly fast blastbeats with fist-pumping mid-tempos ripe for raising a pint to, partner-in-rhythm Magnus Olsfelt’s bass rumbling along in a fashion Lemmy’d be proud of. Curiously, but all the better for it, Johan Lindstrand belts out lyrics (mostly written by Olsfelt) in a semi-growly/semi-screechy manner, which are laden with a seemingly cliche devils n’ demons imagery that, because of such inherent badass-ness, gives rise to the “Rebel Angel” (to quote one of the song titles) spirit of the band.
Seriously, few adjectives do the Crown and Deathrace King justice: sometimes the sheer kill-factor alone of a record stands beyond description, as is certainly the case here. Nonetheless, probably the most motorcycle-ridin’, beer-drinkin’ death-metal album ever to be unleashed on the timid, law abiding populace.
Metal Blade Records, 2828 Cochran St., Suite 302, Simi Valley, CA 93065-2793; http://www.metalblade.com