The Crown - _Possessed 13_
(Metal Blade, 2003)
by: Matthias Noll (
Simply put, _Possessed 13_ sounds as if The Crown's previous album _Crowned in Terror_ never got released. While _Crowned in Terror_ was certainly a decent album which directed a lot of attention towards the band, I always felt it had a couple of flaws. First and foremost, it was Tomas Lindberg and not Johan Lindstrand on vocals. Lindberg might have been the best possible choice at that point in time, but somehow his voice just didn't fit The Crown as well as Lindstrand's dirty and unbelievably powerful roar, and -- as subjective as it may be -- Lindstrand is one of the key factors that make the band as excellent and charismatic as they are. The increased technicality and inclusion of more twin guitar melody work in the typical but overused Swedish style, which I felt did not always work in favour of the band's style on _Crowned in Terror_, has also been scaled back and mostly disappeared. Equally important: The Crown once again make the most out of their wicked riffs and grooves, and got rid of the annoying tendency to waste the second half of tracks which started with killer riffs by endlessly repeating the chorus. With these changes in place, The Crown start right where they left off with _Deathrace King_. Maybe a bit more simple and slightly more death than thrash this time around as they unleash eleven raging songs and two instrumentals somewhere in between the two genres, sometimes spiced up with some dirty, rock 'n' roll-ish grooves in exactly the unique, immediate and insanely frantic style that was one of the most important ingredients to make _Deathrace King_ one of the best death metal records of the last ten years. Blessed with a huge, powerful sound that for the first time appropriately highlights Magnus Olsfelt's destructive bass, _Possessed 13_ races along mercilessly. From the stunning first blows of "No Tomorrow" and "Face of Destruction / Deep Hit of Death" on through a mixture of more hellishly paced tracks interrupted by a few slower, crunchier numbers to the final instrumental, the intensity level never drops. While some songs might stand out slightly, the overall quality stays incredibly high throughout the album's 50 minutes and demands attention from start to finish. This alone is a great achievement in a world where every death metal record seems to end around the 30 minute mark -- and in numerous cases that's already 20 minutes after things got boring. Lyrically The Crown are also back on track, and where _Deathrace King_ featured gems as hilarious as metallic to the bone like "Total Satan" and "Blitzkrieg Witchcraft", we now get the already mentioned "Face of Destruction / Deep Hit of Death" and Lindstrand roaring "Rainbow Satan Overflow". In direct comparison, _Deathrace King_ might be a slightly better album: it had better guitar solos and overall the quality of the songs was just an ounce better; but apart from that, the outstandingly packaged _Possessed 13_ is certainly the best death metal record I've heard in 2003.
(article published 10/30/2003)
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