Death thrash is one of those genres of metal that has become over-saturated in recent years. It seems like a number of albums that come out every week fall into this category. Please don’t misunderstand the point. Many of these bands are quite good but for the most part they sound fairly similar. At this point, it takes that certain something for a band to really blow people away. Fortunately, the ninth album from Sweden’s The Crown has that magical element. Death Is Not Dead offers all the pieces necessary to be considered a contemporary death thrash masterpiece including great songwriting, signature vocals and phenomenal musicianship.
All of these things are amazing but the real star of the album is the guitar work. Marco Tervonen and Robin Sörqvist have the ability to play everything from classic thrash leads to extreme skin ripping solos. The guitar leads are what really pull the listener in and hold their attention for an entire song. “Headhunter”, “Iblis Bane”, “Speed Kills” and “Ride to Ruin” feature some of the album’s best and most catchy lead guitar arrangements. To get the best example of everything that Tervonen and Sörqvist have to offer, check out the nearly six minute instrumental track, “Meduseld”. It has speed, beauty and everything in between. Much like the rest of the album, the song does not disappoint.
The majority of the riffs featured are fast and harmonized but the guys also throw in plenty of heavy, more traditional death metal grooves on tracks like “Eternal” (Paradise Lost cover), “Godeater” and “Herd of Swine”. The latter track is one of a few songs that incorporates more sanguine guitars. The sound is most reminiscent of the musical style Slayer used on their early records. The guitars and the entire album, for that matter, have the perfect combination of old school thrash and the best elements of present-day extreme metal. Death Is Not Dead is one of those rare albums that possesses the power to convert even the most ardent detractors of death thrash.
The vocals also have a great deal to do with the album’s musical triumph. Johan Lindstrand now has to be considered one of the better singers in extreme metal. In a time when many vocalists can seem too overbearing, especially those in younger bands, Lindstrand’s style remains more restrained and controlled. There is even some originality to the way he carries out his screams helping to set him apart from the mass produced, cookie cutter growlers. Lindstrand uses his vocals to add to the aggression of the music, not overshadow it. This is exactly what thrash singers like Max Cavalera and Mille Petrozza had in mind when they began using this vocal style in the mid 80’s.
The Crown has combined all of the above aspects into one of the most fluid and well crafted death thrash albums of this decade. Death Is Not Dead is the kind of record that has the potential to become an instant classic with fans of classic thrash, death metal and melodeath. If you are a person that has never had the opportunity to hear The Crown’s music, this album is the perfect introduction. This is without a doubt their best album yet. With a January release, The Crown has already set the bar high for metal albums in 2015. It will be hard for any death thrash band or any metal band, period, to do much better than this in the coming year.
Death Is Not Dead will be released on January 13, 2015 through Century Media Records. Take a listen when you get a chance and give us your opinion of the album in our comments section.
Mike Lawrence is METAL DESCENT’s Associate Editor and Senior Social Media Manager. You can follow him on Twitter at @metaldadk.