They’ve been going for twenty seven years now? How can this be true? Yet, somehow, and improbably, The Crown are back again. Their travails and tribulations have been well covered, but simply put, they’ve seen their band forced into changing their name from “Crown of Thorns” by a US band of the same name, had multiple band members come and go, and had – dependant on your viewpoint – either one or two comeback albums. (I’m not a tremendous fan of 2010’s lukewarm “Doomsday King”, and so I prefer to think of their true comeback album as 2015’s excellent “Death is not Dead”). For younger readers out there, The Crown, when on their game, are the best death/thrash band out there bar none. They simply can’t be touched. “Deathrace King”, “Possessed 13” and “Crowned Unholy” (yes, I prefer that to “Crowned in Terror” – sue me) are the best in breed. Does “Cobra Speed Venom” see the ferocious Swedes at their best?


Yes it does.

This could just be the album that finally tops 2000’s “Deathrace King” as the best album of the subgenre. The reason why this Is the case actually comes with the special alchemy that forms their songs here. So, of course, these are in the main absolute belters – tracks that demand to be played loud and proud, so that the breakneck speed of the barely leashed thrash can be delivered in full glory. The speed, the attack, the ferocity and the velocity of the metal is almost a given for a band this accomplished; yet what they’ve remembered here is the rock n’ roll. So sure, The Crown have always had a hefty dose of Slayer-ish scything axe work, and the brilliant flourishes of guitar mainstay Marko Tervonen, but here they’ve remembered that the Motorhead touches – the middle finger to authority, the blues-on-speed element – that really takes them to the next level.

New drummer Henrik Axelsson is an absolute beast, and whether smashing the double bass pedals in the outro to moody ragers like “We Avenge!”, or rocking out with straight ahead madness like “Iron Crown”, he keeps the spine of the band absolutely straight. It goes without saying that Johan Lindstrand gives it 100%, but here the intensity is ramped up since “Death is not Dead”, and brings a venomous delivery that would shame vocalists half his age. Magnus Olsfelt, the other great mainstay of the band, puts in a serious shift too, as with the deft and rumbling bass work that propels the Sturm und Drang of the title track. Stiff-necked stompers such as “World War Machine” feel muscular and swaggering, with the chunky combined riffing, further demonstrating that relative newbie Robin Sorqvist (since 2013 – and ex Impious)is a great addition to the band.

The production is killer too; there’s plenty of grit and analogue warmth, while retaining the killer punch that a modern metal album needs. IN particular, the guitars cut harder than diamond, and the stellar solo works really sings against the background of these raging tracks, where it must have been hard to make sure that the sheer velocity of the music didn’t lose the little details of the music. When there are such brilliant pieces of six-string mayhem that come off like prime-era Kerry King (but if he’d actually had some guitar lessons) such as on the brilliant “Necrohammer, then it demands to be heard.

For any readers out there with a hankering for top quality thrash, for genre topping thrills and the sound of a band with their full powers and confidence returned, then this is it. I doubt very much if you’re going to hear anything that will come anywhere near it. Cobra Speed Venom is the real deal. If there is any justice in the world, this will be the album that finally sees them getting the acclaim they deserve. It may just be the best death/thrash album ever.

(9.5/10 Chris Davison)