The Crown - _Hell Is Here_
(Metal Blade, 1998)
by: David Rocher (
New label, new name (due to legal threats from the feeble Christian US glam-rock outfit fronted by Jean Beauvoir) for the high-speed, brutally heavy Swedes previously known as Crown of Thorns. What springs to mind within 30 seconds of the opener "The Poison" is the amazing technical control that The Crown exert upon the brutality that _HIH_ exudes; this bitter-sweet feeling of restraint remains very tangible and clear throughout the whole album, and although _HIH_ undoubtedly rates as a -very- wild Scandinavian death metal offering, the overtly clean melodies, arrangements and sound awaken some kind of nostalgia for the harsh, violent and raw assaults of The Crown's previous work, _Eternal Death_. However, The Crown's newborn spawn delivers more than its fair share of adrenaline and viciousness, and is by no means tame or weak -- in a way, one could define The Crown's evolution between _ED_ and _HIH_ as being somewhat similar to that of Morbid Angel between _Altars of Madness_ and _Blessed Are the Sick_, although these band's respective styles obviously don't have much in common. As always in The Crown's history, the musical skill demonstrated on _HIH_ attains extremely high standards; the rhythm and lead guitars are more intricate than they ever were, and Janne Saarenpaa's drumming reaches a new summit in terms of velocity and technicality. As always, Johan Lindstrand's vocal performances are awesomely rabid and hateful. In fact, the sole drawback of this album, if this may be called a drawback, is its squeaky clean sound, that somewhat deprives The Crown of the monolithic power they really deserve and don't fail to deliver.
(article published 1/16/1999)
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