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A Triumphant Return - 85%

DeviousDarren, June 4th, 2007

“Premonition” is an excellent title for a band’s initial effort. Premonition is a word that alludes to what comes next. In the case of KEEN OF THE CROW, the title is also a companion to the morbid history of the crow due to the superstitions attached to this scavenging bird, so the word “Premonition” adds to the supernatural aura surrounding the band’s name. Sometimes a band’s cover art, name, and song titles are no indication of what the band has to offer. That is not the case with this dark Californian five-piece group.

In some cultures, the crow is a symbol of death—an emissary of the dead—so the best form of music to represent this gloomy topic is Doom Metal. KEEN OF THE CROW knows Doom Metal quite well with bassist Justin Christian and drummer Rhett Davis being former members of the ex-Relapse doom cult, Morgion. Fans of the first two full-length Morgion albums “Among Majestic Ruin” and “Solinari” should be excited to know that KOTC does not stray too far from the mystical path of their former band. KOTC follows much of the same formula utilizing monumental chord sequences with sordid tones, speaker blowing bass slaps, savage death growls, and mellifluous melodic interludes.

‘Nightbringer,’ the album’s opening track, begins where Morgion’s “Cloaked in Ages, Crowned in Earth” left off with epic lifting guitar notes and controlled, clean vocals. The melancholy tone leers into an even slower swagger when the guitar’s electricity is turned off in favor of acoustics. The acoustics give a false sense of tranquility, fore the pace picks up to a mammoth, medium stride and Dan Ochoa’s vocals take a raucous turn. The opening heavy verse is comparable to the glum death chords produced by Opeth, but soon the band shows its peripatetic ways with a victorious feeling, stop-n-start rhythm. Davis never showed this side in his former band, nor did he and his former band show their affinity for Celtic Frost (at least not on a proper release) as KOTC does so well on “Speaker of the Suns.” Davis and Arthur take a riff from the “To Mega therion” days and slow it down, tune it down, further warp it by bending their strings just a little longer, then add a second guitar harmony.

“Premonition” was hailed as a perfectly fitting album title in the beginning of this review. A closer look at KOTC’s arrangements shows “Premontion” may be a deceiving title. Due to some of the members’ former musical creations, “Premonition” may give off preconceived notions about what this band is supposed to sound like. Those assumptions prove wrong after a couple of minutes of the first track. “Premonition,” however, does send a clear vision of what is to come.

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