The Crown – Cobra Speed Venom (Metal Blade)Tuesday, 13th March 2018
Appearing on this reviewer’s aural screen during the mid-1990’s when known as Crown of Terror through 1997’s Eternal Death, a subsequent name change to The Crown plus major deal with Metal Blade caused this Swedish death/thrash band to blossom into a fervent unit for the world to discover. The combination of speed, intensity, and go for it attitude keeps records such as Deathrace King and Crowned in Terror top of mind when wanting crushing tracks. After a prolonged five-year hiatus during 2004-2009, the recent incarnation of The Crown may be slower in productivity album-wise (this record their third of the decade), but there’s no sacrifice in quality as Cobra Speed Venom fires on all cylinders for those who love death, thrash, and the outer nuances that speak to a primal intent and execute from more of an old school, in your face mentality that is sadly lacking in many records released today.
Reference points for The Crown can be clear as day (a little Morbid Angel here, a dash of Slayer there), but it’s in combination with a mix of blast beats, punk-like attitude, or often specific harmonic accents and d-beat tempos that keeps each song fresh through the transitions and transformations. It allows for the mid-section of the title track to become surprisingly groovy to shape shift the otherwise blitzkrieg riff bombs and unyielding snare /kick action, and the follow-up “World War Machine” to take some conventional Swedish melodic death melodies and add in this mid-tempo, old school crunch/marching feel. Johan Lindstrand bellows, growls, and screams as if his life depended upon it for mere existence, keeping up to the upbeat juggernaut that is “Iron Crown” while being versatile during the doom dynamics that occur during the seven-minute death/thrash mind-bender “The Sign of the Scythe”. Smartly including an instrumental “Where My Grave Shall Stand” proves The Crown can be musically savvy in a thoughtful manner, the brooding riffs and controlled tempo giving guitarists Marko Tervonen and Robin Sörqvist ample chance to fill the electric landscape with texture and circular themes.
Even the three ‘bonus’ tracks on the limited edition are worth checking into (“Nemesis Diamond” ripping in that Swedish steamroller fashion… the triplet Johan-led vocal refrain sticking in the cranium) – leading us to believe that The Crown still deliver as a band half their age despite decades underneath their collective recording/songwriting belts. Cobra Speed Venom attacks on all angles, and that’s what vicious and noteworthy death/thrash should always accomplish.