There are always those bands that you just never get around to checking out. Someone can bang on and on about an artist and you still won’t relent. Sometimes even when you do relent you still don’t ‘get it’. I had this with Behemoth, I enjoyed them but never understood their widespread success until The Satanist which became perhaps one of the best albums of the 2010s for me. Even my more recent love of Prog has led me to think ‘why have I not listened to my friends more often’.

Aiming to make such a change I come to speak of the French quartet Svart Crown. The band have been a driving force in the underground since their inception in 2004. Mentions of them have come up time and time again yet I have persisted not to give them a chance. So, in 2020 we mark the release of their fifth full length release Wolves Among The Ashes. The album comes from Century Media Records and will hopefully usher in a new wave of fans, including myself.

As the album begins with They Will Not Take Our Death In Vain there is a certain epic nature portrayed through sampled spoken word portions and melodic albeit heavy, modern Blackened Death Metal guitars, drums and spewing vocals. Indeed, it sets the scene for the aggressive Thermageddon, pinpoint production elevates the unclean vocals and melodious riffs further to create a modern sounding accessible symphony. The cleaner vocals are also a welcome addition, the whole experience takes me back to my first exposure to Extreme Metal through the likes of Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth and Cannibal Corpse. Moving forth to Blessed Be The Fools there is a definite Blackened air surrounding this release and in fact this release becomes a snapshot of modernist Extreme Metal.

Bringing yet more dare I say mainstream influence Down To Nowhere appears really amping up the clean vocals but it works really well. The dark melodic passages are powerful and full of enticing anguish which aid in the album’s memorability. Adding further to this is Living With The Enemy another blast of modernist Blackened Death Metal that helps to round the album off nicely. Truth be told there isn’t anything gleaming about this release it simply delivers upon a brief. It encapsulates the listener and through memorable passages ensures multiple replays.

So simply put, Wolves Among The Ashes is good, it’s certainly made a fan out of me. For lack of a better descriptor this album is the sort of record for people who maybe only listen to five or six new albums in a year. Easy to digest music for an age that has no patience or time. If you like your music full of beard stroking contemplation then this certainly isn’t for you. Yet equally if you are looking for a bit of a break from the busy music scene then perhaps this is just what you need, back to basics Extreme Metal for the masses.

(7/10 George Caley)