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Northern Crown > The Others > Reviews
Northern Crown - The Others

Intriguing up and down - 77%

gasmask_colostomy, June 18th, 2021

I was impressed with these Floridians the minute my brain had wrapped itself around their most recent offering, last year’s In a Pallid Shadow. Carrying a certain doomy weight to everything they do, the trio (a quartet on The Others) seem unfazed by the often narrow restrictions of that style, incorporating other instruments beyond the canon, most notably heavy use of organ and synthesizers. Whether or not The Others should be considered the proper debut of Northern Crown (seeing as In the Hands of the Betrayer spanned half an hour 2 years earlier), the release certainly shows the group in confident mood and able to produce an enthralling set of songs.

Saving the really long (Frenchified) title track for last, the 6 cuts mostly dwell in the 6 to 7 minute range, allowing quite relaxed pace and a bit of experimentation, notably in ‘No One Came to Mourn Me’, which, apart from having a bizarre perspective in its title, commences as a ghostly electronic synth song and peels out a heavily processed lead as it builds into Blade Runner territory. Not that Northern Crown really have a fixed style elsewhere, it mainly falling to the rumbling bass to keep proceedings close to that Isole or Altar Of Oblivion vibe, while the strong vocal presence of Frank Serafine matches the epic doom criteria down to a T when he belts out aching sustained lines. Sometimes the riffing aligns too, like the Pagan Altar groove at the beginning of the long closer or the shuffling stagger that takes ‘With Malicious Eye’ through its verses. On the other hand, unlike Candlemass, who often show a pick up of pace to enter a solo or more tense section, Northern Crown prefer to drop down to very quiet levels for contrast, indeed doing that twice on the opener without really needing to, and breaking the flow as a result.

The variety displayed across these 42 minutes proves, to me, the strong point of The Others. The structuring and progress of songs happens in careful manner, yet the decisions think outside the box, bringing in a sinister slow verse with violin accompaniment when ‘Surreality (The Tell-Tale Mind)’ has completed a rampant solo and cruising mid-paced opening, then is interrupted quite late on by a sudden dazzling guitar lead. Most of the leads occur in this style, the use of moog, lead guitar, and organ all seeming to act on impulse and truly seizing the moment with very suitable moods. Therefore, rather than the relatively low pace causing problems, it highlights these moments of rapid change and confirms them as some of the most memorable sections. The only song without such a feature is ‘A Pox Upon Your House’, a not-too-short atmospheric instrumental that does ambiguous things with a couple of guitars and organ before the title track kicks in.

While some bands would surely bore me while going through extended clean sections like the one ‘Apostate’ turns over in the first 2 minutes, the strange energy built up by Northern Crown’s unorthodox thinking results in a spread of interest across the whole listen, kept diverting by the guitarists and Serafine’s malleable pipes that remind of Robert Lowe. However, there’s really no reason to confuse these Americans with any other epic doom outfit, since they do all they can to stand out. The Others perhaps has just a bit too much up and down for its own good, although when the songs hit the spot they feel massively powerful. Intriguing.