The-Crown-Death-Is-Not-DeadThe history of The Crown is a bit complicated. Suffice to say the Swedish death/thrash band have had their share of line up changes and split up in 2004 when original (and best) vocalist Johan Lindstrand buggered off to form (the daftly named & poorly reviewed but I liked ‘em) One Man Army & The Undead Quartet.

The band made a bit of a comeback in 2010 with Jonas Stalhammer (God Macabre) fronting them but here, with ‘Death Is Not Dead’ (shit title) is the first record since 2004’s ‘Crowned Unholy’ with Lindstrand back growling for them and well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

When I pressed play and brooding intro ‘Reign’ poured out it sounded like the beginning of Marilyn Manson’s ‘Sweet Dreams’ cover and I thought “oooh fuck what’s going on?” but then breathed a sigh of relief when the staccato riff of ‘Headhunter’ kicked in with Lindstrand’s welcome roar soaring over the top. Good track.

‘Iblis Bane’ is a storming riff whirlwind with wicked axe-work from Marko Tervonen and Robin Sorqvist  and a fairly sinister (though ultimately pointless) cover of Paradise Lost’s ‘Eternal’ follows.

The rest of the album is solid enough with tracks like ‘Herd Of Swine’ & the fun ‘Speed Kills’ delivering the goods but nothing quite measures up to the attitude, aggression and fury of ‘Headhunter’.  The final two tracks, the moody instrumental ‘Meduseld’ and epic sounding ‘Godeater’ close the album in a typically classy way.

All in all this is a solid album that fans of The Crown’s early work will be chuffed to bits with.

(7.5/10 Mark Eve)