Racing Towards Destruction
CoC chats with Janne Saarenpaa of The Crown
by: Adrian Bromley
Some of you will know this by having read my review of The Crown's (formerly Crown of Thorns) latest death metal / death rock release _Deathrace King_ in this issue: I am totally blown away by it. The passion. The speed. The intensity. All stellar elements that truly help shape one of the most promising (and easily most volatile) releases this year.

In short: these Swedes mean business. "This was a very important record for us", starts drummer Janne Saarenpaa about the new release, a follow-up their well-received third album, and debut for Metal Blade, titled _Hell Is Here_ [CoC #36]. "It took us many years of playing out and recording to find the right sound within what we did. We have become very confident now with our material and we are glad that with this record we can now showcase what we want The Crown to sound like."

The Crown's success has lied within their staying power. The want, or maybe more importantly, the need to keep focused and playing metal music. Over ten years and four releases, Saarenpaa and his band (rounded out by singer Johan Lindstrand, bassist Magnus Olsfelt, guitarists Marko Tervonen and Marcus Sunesson) have made sure that each and every release of The Crown is worthy of consumption by the metal legion out there.

"We have struggled to get the band name out and record music", he says. "It has been hard to actually try to make a name for ourselves and to get the name out, but things are starting to look good for the band. It seems as though we are finally getting what we deserve." He continues: "There has been a lot of work put into this band, a lot of sacrifice, and it just feels so good that the band is starting to see success and recognition from the metal community."

On the topic of the new release and the title, Saarenpaa says, "This record is definitely more death metal sounding than the last record. As for the title, we think it really describes what we are doing here. Somewhat of a death race through Hell or something like that. The album cover really brings that to mind, I think. It really feels very fast and furious and I think the songs really drive home that experience."

"I am really pleased that the stuff that we have created with _Deathrace King_ is easily compatible with the older Crown material. It feels very natural and very refreshing playing all of the new material because I was getting very tired of playing the old stuff."

One thing that Saarenpaa says is a big priority is for the band to come over and tour the United States this year. He enthusiastically explains: "The label has been pushing real hard and talking about bringing us over to play. It would be great for us. They are talking about us doing a tour with Cannibal Corpse and it should happen. I'm hoping it does. We already have a good fanbase here in Europe, so by playing over there, we would be growing as a band. It only seems like the right thing to do."

So seeing that death metal seems to be resurfacing, haven slowly dwindled away over the past few years, how does Saarenpaa feel about playing death metal music? What are his thoughts on today's current state of metal music? "Playing this music has been a big deal for us. It is good to see that this trend really didn't go away and I think we really believed in what we were playing even if it was difficult sometimes to get noticed or whatever. We have just working 100% on what we do best and hope that we can survive all of these other trends. I just think it is hard sometimes for death metal music because people are so fixed on making all of these unique styles of metal music and forget the original style of metal music. I think too many records of this style were being put out and the quality went very low for a while. We believe in death metal and that is all that matters. We didn't want to feel bad about playing something that we liked to play. We didn't change and I think that support for what we play has kept us on track."

Adding, Saarenpaa notes: "A lot of the death metal bands out there have changed a bit too much, I think. There is a lot more to discover within the extreme realm of brutal death metal. Sure it is hard to come up with new material each time out, but that is the whole essence of being a musician. The harder you work at it, the better it will turn out."

Even though this is only the second release for the band on Metal Blade, their years of playing have been well documented in their two previous releases on Black Sun Records as Crown of Thorns: 1995's _The Burning_ and 1997's _Eternal Death_ [CoC #22]. It just seems now that being on a major label has opened up the band (as it should) to a bigger audience.

About the work with Metal Blade, he comments: "Working with Metal Blade has been a great experience for us. It is good to see that they are really focused in doing the shit they have to do to help the band, allowing us to concentrate on making music and playing out live. It has allowed us to work hard and define our sound. We just worry about playing our instruments and they do the rest."

He finishes: "That is all we ever wanted and all that we ever needed to do in order to get the name out. Now it is just up to us to tear things up with our music and have fun doing so."

(article submitted 25/5/2000)

10/16/2003 P Schwarz The Crown: Possessed to Race With Death
11/19/2004 P Azevedo 5 The Crown - Crowned Unholy
10/30/2003 M Noll 9 The Crown - Possessed 13
7/3/2002 D Rocher 9 The Crown - Crowned in Terror
5/25/2000 A Bromley 9.5 The Crown - Deathrace King
1/16/1999 D Rocher 9 The Crown - Hell Is Here
7/14/1997 D Schinzel 7 Crown of Thorns - Eternal Death
1/10/2001 D Rocher Morbid Angel / Enslaved / The Crown / Dying Fetus / Behemoth / Hypnos Belated Tales of the Unexpected
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