Album Review: Crown Of Thorns - Eternal Death
Released: February 1997
Reviewed On: December 20th 2016 by DoomMaster
Considering the enormous popularity of Gothenburg powerhouses such as In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and At The Gates, it can be easy to overlook some of Sweden's other melodic death metal gems of the 90s. Crown Of Thorns's sophomore album Eternal Death approaches the genre with a hard-nosed death metal edge which separates it from their countrymate's gothenburg offerings while still being undoubtedly melodic death metal. It also seems to not be influenced by the Swedish death metal pioneers such as Dismember or Unleashed, but more the Floridian death metal scene of the early 90s. Crown Of Thorns are the first that I know
of to fuse the punishing riffing akin to early Deicide, with the melodic, thrashy punch of gothenburg metal.
Crown Of Thorns released two albums before being rebranded to the more straightforward death metal band as it's known today; The Crown. Before this point, Crown Of Thorns released two albums, The Burning in 1995, and Eternal Death in 1997. While The Burning is also a fairly fantastic death metal release, it was a bit inconsistent in the songwriting department, with melodic, thrashy, and death metal bits all executed to varying degrees of effectiveness which left it feeling a bit unfocused. Eternal Death streamlined the ideas presented on their first album with a focus on a melodic structure driven by a melancholious atmosphere as well as bombastic leads. The aforementioned atmosphere is helped by a fairly raw sound, which emanates a natural sonic energy many melodic death metal bands lack.
Once the first track "Angels Die" kicks into high gear, the onslaught of pummeling drums, high flying riffage and coarse vocals play along together with a sustained melodic fury, carrying its momentum for the duration until the final ten minute opus "Death Of God." Considering the 52 minute running length this may seem like an exhausting endeavor, but the songwriting ability portrayed here keeps every moment interesting and somehow manages to sound rather varied despite the blistering pace of each track. The only fault I found with the consistency here is the sub-two minute track "Kill (The Priest)", which is a thrashy number that contrasts from the melodic nature of the other tracks and features tongue-in cheek lyrics which are a far cry from the well-crafted lyrics of the other tracks.
Every performance here is nothing short of impressive. Janne Saarenpää absolutely pummels his kit in a truly dynamic performance of blast beats, fills and innovative rhythms. Vocalist Johan Lindstrand delivers coarse shrieks under sustained syllables, giving the blasphemous lyrical content some welcomed emotional power. Guitarists Marcus Sunesson and Marko Tervonen provide perhaps the most interesting aspect of the album, with their masterful blend of concise gothenburg-like and Floridian death metal riff fusion. This was most apparent to me early in the album with the track "Beautiful Evil Soul", whose middle section sounds like it was channeled straight from Deicide's Once Upon The Cross before a virtuosic archipeggio solo thrusts you back into melody. These Floridian death metal influences infused with concise melodic riffs separate them from the meandering open-ended riffs I often hear from other melodic death metal offerings.
In short, Eternal Death offers me what most melodic death metal albums cannot - actual melodic death metal. This is an absolute gem of the genre and offers a unique twist by combining the crushing Florida death scene of the 90s with the up-and-coming gothenburg sound. Fans of death metal and gothenburg would be doing themselves a disfavor by leaving this one behind for the well established favorites, so don't let it slip under your radar, check it out now!
Current incarnation of the band - The Crown