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Proudly Giving You Whiplash Since 2002 - 92%

lonerider, August 28th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2002, CD, Metal Blade Records

The Crown have always been among that elite group of bands to showcase an almost uncanny ability, one they share with a number of other gifted outfits mostly hailing from Sweden, it seems: they effortlessly infuse their brand of death metal with insane amounts of melody without ever sounding calculated, soft or melodramatic. That is why slapping the melodic death metal label on their music, as is frequently done on many review sites all across the interwebs, definitely feels like a misnomer.

The Swedes’ fourth studio album “Crowned in Terror” is a perfect example for this conundrum: certainly you could say that death metal plus melody equals melodic death metal, yet I don’t think that would be an apt description of The Crown’s musical style. To me, the term melodic death metal is too closely associated with the so-called Gothenburg sound and bands like Dark Tranquillity or older In Flames (before they wimped out over the last decade or so), and I just don’t think The Crown sound very much like that. Yes, their music is basically death metal with lots of melody and it can be very catchy, but it’s also uncompromisingly fast, heavy, dirty, dark and mean thanks to a substantial infusion of thrash and black metal and even some (punk) rock elements. Ah, to hell with all this labeling – let’s just say it’s quite difficult to categorize this band as they incorporate elements from many of metal’s more extreme subgenres. What counts is that the resulting concoction is very potent and very likely to kick your ass at all times.

What The Crown deliver on “Crowned in Terror” is pretty much the same thing as on their previous effort “Deathrace King” (not counting “Eternal Death”, which was originally released under the Crown of Thorns moniker). It just boasts slightly better production values (even though “Deathrace King” didn’t leave much to be desired in that regard) and a different vocalist. Out is original frontman Johan Lindstrand, who gets replaced by renowned vocal-cord grinder Tomas “Tompa” Lindberg, notorious for his work with (among others) semi-legendary death metallers At the Gates. This Tomas Lindberg, by the way, is another good example of why The Crown are a difficult band to classify: his vocals are not quite death but also not quite black metal, falling somewhere in between these two styles. What they are, though, is plenty aggressive, a trait he shares with his predecessor (and successor) Johan Lindstrand. Which vocalist you prefer is strictly a matter of personal taste, as both are perfect fits for what The Crown try to accomplish.

Another highlight on “Crowned in Terror” is the supremely talented guitar work of Marcus Sunesson and Marko Tervonen, who churn out a wealth of crushing riffs and awesome lead guitar passages. There are moments of the grandiose variety on this record, moments when these two guys put on a clinic that will literally leave you gaping in awe.

As far as the actual songs are concerned, there aren’t many negatives on “Crowned in Terror”. Granted, the album doesn’t get off to a great start with the slightly pointless intro “House of Hades”, which aims at establishing a sinister, haunted atmosphere and gets the job done well enough, though I would have preferred something with a less futuristic “techno” sound. The second-to-last track “Satanist“ is nothing special either, passing as a merely decent cut that’s easily the most non-descript on the album. Other than that, it’s pretty much full speed ahead: the first two proper tracks come storming out of the gate with unrelenting fury and the fast-paced trio of “Out for Blood”, “(I Am) Hell” and “Death Is the Hunter” is of amazing quality. The latter in particular is almost scary good, an awe-inspiring thing of beauty that makes you wonder just how in blazes they managed to pull it off.

Another cut worth mentioning is “Death Metal Holocaust”, which is a bit of an anomaly for deviating slightly from The Crown’s trademark style. It sees the band omitting their usual black thrash leanings in favor of a more “traditional”, early-nineties death metal sound. Calling this an experiment would be exaggerated – it is somewhat different from the rest yet very well-executed.

Somewhere along the way, things slow down with “Drugged Unholy” and especially “World Below”. The latter is easily the most plodding piece on the album, offering a welcome respite before the tempo picks up again with “The Speed of Darkness”, a great tune notable for its (pretty cool, I might add) rendition of the main theme from the TV series Knight Rider and its amazing guitar work.

In the end, “Crowned in Terror” is simply a very, very good album that may rightfully be called a genre classic. It’s debatable whether this is better than its equally recommendable precursor “Deathrace King” or the other way around, but one thing is certain: “Crowned in Terror” is among the very best death/black/thrash hybrids you’ll ever hear, so you would be well-advised to get your own copy post-haste!

(On a side note, why The Crown later felt the need to re-record this album with original vocalist Johan Lindstrand is totally beyond me, as both Tomas Lindberg’s vocals and the production are, as mentioned earlier, top-notch.)

The king is dead, long live the king. - 93%

hells_unicorn, March 7th, 2012

If there is one enduring stereotype in the Swedish melodic death scene, it is that the genre is overrun with pretentiousness and is obsessed only with technical showmanship and maybe occasionally writing an actual song. This mostly false impression was diluted a bit with the advent of brutal and technical bands that upped the ante often to the point of sheer ridiculousness, but it still finds itself amongst some in the general death metal paradigm. The Crown is seen as being an exception to this stereotype, a band that stuck pretty closely to the thrash metal roots of their genre while still pushing the envelope in the aggression department well beyond what Slayer and Possessed originally brought to the table.

For all of the bands that have had frequent line up shifts in various parts of the metal scene, this band was one of the few that weren’t too adversely hit by this trend, at least until after their incredible speed fest “Deathrace King”. The exodus of long time vocalist Johan Lindstrand would seem to have been a major blow to the band’s sound as he provided a rather ferocious bark to augment the rest of the band’s already massive sound. But a more than adequate replacement was found in former At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg, a mainstay of the same Swedish theme that this band popped out of. His voice is a bit higher pitched and resembles the colder, almost blackened character of a melodeath screamer more so than Lindstrand’s deeper bark in the mold of the earlier school, but the former works just as well with this arrangement and even brings out a bit more of the underlying thrash character of their sound.

By and large, “Crowned In Terror” smashes the ear drums with the same level of intensity as its riveting predecessor did, but with a few added wrinkles. One staple of the melodeath sound that has found itself into this album that wasn’t there before is the sense of a programmatic scheme to things, as if there was an underlying conceptual nature connecting all of these songs. The synthesizer driven intro that kicks things off in “House Of Hades” could be likened to the soundtrack them to a sci-fi epic such as “The Terminator” or “Robocop”, and acts as a prefect segue into the first unfettered barrage of thrash riffs and vile, vindictive rage that is the title song, which also has a recurring rhythmic drone that recaps the one heard in the intro instrumental.

Once this album gets going, it never really lets up, continuing to crush all its would-be naysayers with one pummeling thrash section after another. The closest to a catchy, straight up song on here is “Speed Of Darkness”, which employs some latent power metal elements during the chorus and has this spacey little interlude that is somewhat reminiscent of the “Night Rider” theme song, but even here the intensity is still quite high and systematically avoids the mellow atmospherics common to many latter day Gothenburg inspired bands. But most of the album tends to follow the blasting insanity with slightly less chaotic thrashing for contrast formula encountered on “Under The Whip” and “(I Am) Hell”, which also showcase the power lead chops this band possesses. Oddly enough, the most intense song on here from a sheer aggressiveness standpoint is the closer “Death Metal Holocaust”, which actually wanders well outside the thrash metal conventions and rivals a number of heavier works out of Suffocation in how dissonant and destructive it gets.

Though probably among the more extreme melodeath albums ever to be put out, this still keeps itself within a discernible formula that is easy to follow, and attacks conventional wisdom simply in how it approaches each otherwise predictable section. These are actual songs with easily identified verse and chorus sections, though few would want to attempt singing along at the level of throat-wrecking intensity that Lindberg achieves on here for a potential loss in power of speech. For a band that suffered their first line up shift since they put out their debut in 1995, you wouldn’t know it by how they didn’t lose a single step from one album to the next. If any of this band’s previous work appeals to you, or if you’re looking for a meaner version of what normally passes for melodeath, this is a must have.

Total Swedish death metal holocaust - 100%

Sigillum_Dei_Ameth, November 6th, 2009

If there was one album that truly blew me away to hell and back and still does to this day, it's The Crown's third album "Crowned In Terror". Why? Because to this day I have not heard a band with a level of energy to play this fucking fast or insanely melodic at the same time. It's the sound of a band hitting on all of their creative cylinders at top speed. It's the sound of the very ground you are standing on, cracking open and an abyss of fiery doom is awaiting a few million victims to take their place in it's unholy flames.

The Crown up until "Crowned In Terror" had sufficiently been building upon their lightning-fast brand of Swedish melodic death metal with hints of both NWOBHM and black metal's sense of melodies. It wasn't until long-time vocalist Johan Lindstrand left and was replaced by the infamous fire-spewing-mouth-of-hell Thomas "Tompa" Lindberg...and they stuck pure metal gold. I mean, the band even re-recorded such a modern-day classic and you know what? You can't replace something that magical. Whatever Thomas did, whatever the fucking band did, they will never be able to duplicate ever again. It's a fucking shame too because "Crowned In Terror" offers the listener 10 cuts of death-defying songs played at an acrobatic rate of fucking shit going everywhere. It's almost like watching a 3 ring circus and going "Ooo!" and "Aaahh!" I have this theory with my friends that Thomas gargles sulfur and eats nails and broken glass every morning to get his vocals to sound like he's a completely pissed-off demon from hell. Even the rest of the band is at top shape; Guitarists Marko Tervonen and Marcus Sunesson are playing intricate melodies that coil around riffs and leads and multi-layered solos backed by the heavy sub-bottom end of muttochop-sporting bassist Magnus Olsfelt. Last but not least is drummer Janne Saarenpää who out does himself. Does this guy have 8 arms? Because it's like he's drumming on top of drumming on top of double bass on top of tom rolls on top hypertension-inducing blast beats on top of everything besides his fucking head!

Outside of the musicians playing everything at top rate, you have a sound production which is damn near perfect. You hear every instrument perfectly. The artwork is very simplistic. Nothing too eye-catching except skulls but this is probably the first time I've listened to an album to where an album doesn't have to use it's artwork in order to make it better. Like all great albums in the multi-metal universe, the music does most of the talking and the artwork takes a back seat a bit. And this music is complete with some of the most catchy and genius lyrics ever. Take every metal cliche, put a 60's/70's monster magazine take on the subject matter, mix it up with some of the best song titles and you have an album that stands head above others in the metal section. It's not cheesy in a childish way, but it's cheesy in a good horror movie way, lyricaly speaking.

The songs are played at such a fast speed that if you really don't pay attention to the music, you'll miss out on some highly technical, very talented musicians. The intro "House Of Hades" is a quasi-like techno beat in the same feel and sounds exactly like the theme song to "The Terminator". The first actual song being the title track "Crowned In Terror" is like riding a bullet-fast train speeding into the mouth of hell. Thomas Lindberg just opens up with one of the most blood-curling screams and he doesn't hold back. Plenty of tempo changes and breaks in this song almost played to a certain progressive/technical level of guitar wankery. "Under The Whip" opens up with a hammering chugging main riff and Thomas Lindberg howling like a goddamn banshee. Then comes a noodle-like guitar melody at 00:59 that at first sounds annoying and shouldn't be there but somehow both guitarists Marko Tervonen and Marcus Sunesson just morph it into the song that almost takes all the rest of the music and leaves it by itself. It's a weird technique that I haven't heard to many bands do. "Drugged Unholy" is part of the level of epicness that last for the next 3 or 4 songs. A song of drinking until you are drunker than a shit skunk in purgatory, the song builds and bulds with varying levels of blast beat-driven guitars until the guitar solo kicks in that is so Van Halen like with Thomas Lindberg screaming "Beyond the pain - beyond the grave" as loud as he possibly can. Thomas then ends the song with a snarling "This is all madness"...indeed buddy. Couldn't argue with you on that one. Then comes possibly the best track on the entire album, "World Below" which is TOTAL Bathory-worship. If you listen to both "World Below" and "Enter The Eternal Fire" it's the same tempo, same timing, just about same everything. Instead of Quorthon offering himself to the realm of darkness, Thomas Lindberg paints a nasty picture of an angry and miserable-induced suicide. "As I cast aside the chains of life - A world below for us - Born to die" which gives away to an amazing two-part guitar solo by Marcus Sunssenson. Beautiful song really. "The Speed of Darkness" is drummer Janne Saarenpää's time to shine. He is just a fucking animal behind the kit, but if you listen to real close....IT'S THE FUCKING THEME SONG TO KNIGHT RIDER! The Crown even admitted it themselves. The song does not let up as far as drumming goes. It's probably their most multi-layered song ever. "Out For Blood" is the end of that epic 3 song ride. It's just as good but nowhere near the level of that unholy trio. "(I Am) Hell" is like a hidden jewel hidden between 'Out For Blood" and "Death Id The Hunter" which both act like bridges between the 3 song epicness of "Drugged Unholy", "World Below", "The Speed of Darkness" to what could possibly be the best anthem-like song on the entire album "Satanist". Oh man if you don't feel the fire or smell the brimstone, you're fucked. The song is another showcase of Janne Saarenpää's building leveling-like drums where it's sounds like it's a 10.5 on the richter scale. Lyrically it's a tribute to those who have walked the left hand path, but in a not-so-serious rock n' roll way. Last but not least is "Death Metal Holocaust" which has The Crown's former lead singer, Johan Lindstrand, doing a guest appearance and being a total contrast to Thomas Lindberg's howling screeches is his more deeper guttural traditional Swedish death metal vocals.

By the end of the album, you are left with shakes and delirium tremors trying to understand what just happened. The total downside to this album is that when Thomas Lindberg left the band right after the touring ended for the album, they managed to get Johan Lindstand back and had the fucking audacity to re-record the entire album because the band wasn’t satisfied. I heard it and it was everything opposite of this album. If you took away the excellent sound production, took away it’s sense of epicness and not to mention having Johan sing the part where Thomas Lindberg just drove this album to epicness. I don’t how good Johan is, he can’t pull off what Thomas Lindberg is able to do with his voice. There is a reason why so many metal core bands copied him instead of Johan. So when you go out and purchase this album, purchase the original “Crowned In Terror” and pay no attention to it’s re-recorded pale imitation. This is an album I always keep coming back to due to it’s energy and will probably serve me in the years to come. Lastly I forgot to mention that I managed to catch The Crown when they toured for their “Crowned In terror” album and let me just say, seeing Thomas and the rest of the band was great. At one point I thought the windows were going to blow out due to the decibel level and sheer fucking volume of noise this band gave off during that performance. This album is a must buy for all meta lheads who want actual good Swedish metal as opposed to wannabe-Gothenburg bullshit.

I am paralyzed by the magnificience! - 99%

SoulSeekJay, July 20th, 2004

The musicianmanship on display with The Crown's fifth album is incredible. In addition, the impact is everlasting. What these eleven tracks bring to the table are, for starters, an impressive barrage of everything from blast beats to thrash beats to percussive time signatures which are impossible to forget.

The vocals are done by Tomas Lindberg, best known as the frontman of now-defunct Swedish metal masters At The Gates and his screams and lyrical themes are as blood curdling as ever.

The album is packed with majestic guitar riffs interwoven with the framework of death metal and features thrash metal choruses so old-school and authentic that it will be looked back upon ten years from now and still be a post-period classic.

Melodic solos are LAW throughout the album and despite a growing numbers' cowardly distaste for solos, any solos pulled off at such break-neck speeds, which The Crown have become famous for need to be memorized and worshipped.

The layer of sound which envelopes the listener throughout each track is so captivating that it completely eclipses most albums in modern day hard music. I have always held quality death and thrash metal close to my heart and aside from Carcass' Heartwork, At The Gates' 1995 classic Slaughter Of The Soul had always been number one on my list.

The Crown's fifth album, Crowned In Terror, is now number one on my list, having dethroned Slaughter Of The Soul; A task considered impossible by many, due to that album's sheer passion and execution of melodic thrash metal.

New era of Swedish death metal is here! - 95%

AriesWarlock, July 10th, 2003

The first time I heard of The Crown was when they were playing over here, so I went to this club and saw them playing and I never knew that the singer was no other than At the Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg (at that moment)! I would have tried to get an autograph…if only I had known… Crowned In Terror is another great album from Swedish death metalers The Crown. Crowned In Terror, however, it’s very different from their previous albums.

This album is very “trashy” and comes with a high dose of speed. I am focusing my attention on the “thrashiness” of this album because: 1) this is different from what The Crown usually plays, and so this new approach sure adds some innovative characteristics to their typical sound; and 2) it’s very different from regular Swedish death metal. Sure, you can obviously notice that this is a death metal album, but there are some thrash metal elements here for sure, and if you are an old The Crown fan you will clearly notice how different this album is from previous ones. The guitars are very fast and precise; at times they are just brutal and always making you want more of them – just listen to the last minutes of Under the Whip and you will understand. The drumming is very well done, what an awesome display of his abilities Janne Saarenpää does on the drums. Just listen to the beginning of Under the whip (my favorite song from the album, in case you haven’t noticed), what a badass intro with the bad ass drumming! And Tomas Lindberg does a great job on the vocals. His distinguished and violent voice is perfect for the music of The Crown.

The Crown again has come with a magnificent album filled with hate, speed and metal. The Swedish death metal scene needed something new, and in my opinion this album represents a new stage in Swedish death metal.