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Demon Fang, January 13th, 2021

Back in the 90s, The Crown had made some of the most elegant yet aggressive melodic death metal this side of The Red in the Sky is Ours. But knowing or at least figuring that they couldn’t quite replicate or top Eternal Death – not helping that they had to change their name from Crown of Thorns to The Crown – they ended up changing their style to some rather uptempo death/thrash. Hell is Here is good for what it is, but it’s with Deathrace King that The Crown really made their mark. Their mark, of course, being this ridiculously fun slab of death/thrash!

Everything here goes all guns blazing. Riffs playing faster than the speed of light, just thrashing right on through the sound barrier while the percussion thumps with the fury of a thousand suns and Johan Lindstrand’s vocals tearing everything in their path. It’s a big show of these fast and furious joints, all playing past 100. “Deathexplosion” tells you everything you need to know – that they’re going to take this whole death/thrash thing and make an absolute spectacle of it by playing harder and faster than everyone else. Not just the riffs, not just Johan’s single-minded mission to destroy his vocal cords, but even the solos – through the shredding resulting in these white-hot note flurries – that just love flying right on by with this massive fuck off energy to them.

Yet, the entire package remains fresh throughout. This is mainly because they never abandoned their more melodious leanings from their Crown of Thorns days. Knowing when the ease off the gas pedal a bit to let the riffs do the talking is one thing; it’s another to arrange those moments into their own little bonkers moments whether it’s through the vocals, the lively percussion and/or realizing that this is the thrash break priming you for a real fucking ripper of a riff. “Break” may imply it’s simply playing at least than 9999 BPM, but even then, it’s the momentum built off those that make the breaks less like your usual thrash breaks and more like a reprieve from the onslaught.

But even further still, it’s another to take that one step beyond to arrange allllllll of this in ways where the riffs grab your attention and impart more impact than the logs in Final Destination 2, while constructing melodies that worm their way into your subconscious. A song full of outright thrashing lunacy like “Total Satan” should just blur right on by like a lot of post-1992 thrash metal, not be this undeniably catchy pastiche of blisteringly fast riffs and well-timed thrash break that maintains the momentum through its peppy percussion and throaty rasps. It shouldn’t have each note flowing to where the out and out thrashing flows so magnificently into a catchy melody. It shouldn’t have Lindstrand going “TOTAL SATAN” with all his power be such a hoot of a chorus over some blistering thrash riffs. Yet, here we are.

But yeah, whether it’s more seeped in thrash like “Deathexplosion”, has more emphasis on hard-hitting theatrics like “Blitzkrieg Witchcraft”, more about those real nail-biting choruses like “Devil Gate Ride”, or just manically riffing like “I Won’t Follow” and “Total Satan”, Deathrace King is always operating well past full capacity. These guys turned the dial way the fuck past 11 for every performance and yet, it’s all so tightly constructed that it creates some real memorable tracks! This shows during – funnily enough – the slower joints like “Vengeance” with its crawling composition and “Dead Man’s Song” with its tasty leads and what have you. It’s even the case the opening of “Killing Star” with its Sabbathian groove before kicking into a truly climactic fireworks show. So, when those underlying principles work just as well if not better in songs that would theoretically be more interested in ripping and tearing to the point of parody – certainly would have been so in 2000 more than in 2021 – is just insane!