Five years can be a very long time for most bands. Life gets in the way more often than not and the result is usually an inevitable change in any given band’s line-up. Since the 2010 release of The Crown‘s seventh studio album Doomsday King, the most notable line-up change was the return of the band’s original vocalist Johan Lindstrand. After leading his other band One Man Army and the Undead Quartet for eight years which saw them release four full-lengths, Lindstrand finally decided to dissolve the project and return to The Crown in 2011. And so the prodigal son returns in time to make his mark on the eight record Death Is Not Dead with the underlying message that Lindstrand is also not dead.
Lindstrand’s vocal performance takes center stage on most tracks thanks to the semi-standardized song structure throughout the record. His vocal tones however, offer little variety over the 50 minute play time but his experience and abilities grant him the confidence to lead this album. This may not have been the band’s best decision regarding this album. ‘Horrid Ways‘ is a fine example of Lindtsrand wisely using the space afforded to him and taking charge quite masterfully. However, ‘Struck By Lightning’ plays out like a song that’s meant to serve the lyrics without capitalizing on its fantastic start. Also on ‘Ride to Ruin’, which is far and away from being the album’s most exciting piece, the second half just drags on and the album’s intensity is lost.
After the rather forgettable intro track ‘Reign’, ‘Headhunter’ chugs on confidently and boasts some very interesting harmonized dual guitar action to get the album to a fist-pumping start. On numerous occasions, such as ‘Iblis Bane’ and ‘Herd of Swine’, the production shows signs of a strong old-school Swedish death metal influence. The largely constant tempo and slightly fuzzy buzz-saw style guitar distortion are the main clues, especially when coupled with Lindstrand’s howls. Other shining highlights come in the form of the highly dynamic ‘Speed Kills (Full Moon Ahead)‘ with its brilliant guitar solo and the closing piece ‘Godeater‘ where on which the vicious riffing combine with Lindstrand’s brutal delivery to create the album’s most aggressive track.
Death Is Not Dead is definitely not the album to rekindle a fire in the Swedish scene; it’s plenty hot without it. It is however a well executed album by experienced musicians and it has a handful of blistering moments that can easily ignite a moshpit in any live setting. The general lack of excitement in terms of song structures and the lack of variety in Lindstrand’s vocal make it quite problematic for this album to reach double digit plays though. A solid record nonetheless with the potential of being mildly entertaining.
The Crown – Death Is Not Dead gets…