Svart Crown is a death metal band that came across my radar when they appeared on some of my favorite online ‘zines and blog’s year end lists. Specifically, their release of 2013’s “Profane” began popping up on some lists made by some writers whose opinions I hold in high regard. At that time, and seemingly still to this day, any country with a large French-speaking population churns out some of the most innovative, interesting, striking, and highly original, yet thought provoking metal acts. These artists aren’t afraid to make a bold statement byt putting their own person stamp on some, often times, tired genres; thereby breathing unexpected life and therefore interest into what many have perceived as stale. I’m talking the likes of Canada’s Gorguts, Thantifaxath, among others; as well as France’s Svart Crown, Gojira, Benighted, Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord (my favorite all-time Black Metal act), and many more. Maybe it’s just the superiority complex that comes with the language. Either way, some of the best new bands to grace multiple metal subgenres during the past five or more years have been from countries and cities where French is the primary dialect.
One of , if not my favorite, online metal reviewers/writers, Doug Moore, who writes for a varitey of online metal-centric sites and publications, described Svart Crown as France’s answer to America’s underground death metal powerhouse, Immolation. Specifically, back in February, just before the release of “Abreaction,” Moore stated:
“Svart Crown have gradually forged a unique identity out of the basic Immo[lation] features — fluttering black metal blasts, bouncy groove segments that burst in from nowhere to create maximum whiplash, a dour and magisterial sense of melody — over the course of four increasingly compelling albums, including the upcoming Abreaction”
This caused me to check out Immolation, and while I see some of the similarities that Moore mentioned above, I still prefer Svart Crown’s overall approach and sound. Maybe it’s the simple fact that Svart Crown brought me to discover the work of Immolation and not the other way around, but I think that SC, in direct comparison, is a more unique band featuring more diversity in their sound, an aspect that the band has expanded upon moreso recently than on its previous three releases. Moore’s description of the band’s sound, cited above, offers a more concise and accurate summary of the band’s sound than I could produce myself, so rather than attempt to top Moore’s perfect write-up, I will focus on the things that make SC’s newest work stand out among the rest of their catalog, as well as among other modern Death Metal releases.
“Abreaction” is quite the progression, a display proving that the group has collectively grown leaps and bounds ahead of anything they’ve released previously, but specifically, their 2013 release, “Profane.” The 2013 record, with it’s rightfully profane (to some. . . I mean, it’s ART) cover art which features a black and white photo of a topless, demonic-looking, sunken-faced, obviously, quite-pregnant woman was a straight forward, in-your-face, and relentless Death Metal assault, “Abreaction” maintains many of the same elements yet expands upon them in unexpected ways. The band abandons the constant blast-beat assuault commonly found, and often criticised, in most run-of-the-mill Death Metal productions. Death Metal records really can’t truly fit the genre without the blast-beat assaults littered throughout, but Abreaction’s tracks also contain more intricate parts that differ from one another; often featring more groove-oriented lines and phrases to seperate, and mix up, the full-on Death Metal blasts. Other ways that the band has expanded upon its trademark sound are difficult to explain, as it’s somthing that has to be experienced by the listener; something that reveals itself as a “feeling,” rather than specific, easily identifiable elements. This album, while still keeping with the in-your-face style of all of Crown’s work, “breathes” more than any of the band’s other releases. Songs are cohesive, but feature many more distinctive sections that serve as individual per-song highlights: breakdowns, extended intros, elongated bridges, and the entire work possess an “airy” quality at times; all of which fit each song, serve to set the album’s tone, and set this album apart from the rest of band’s discography.
Just a little over five months into the current year, and I have yet to find a Death Metal release that I like more than (several that I like as much) “Abreaction.” Its heaviness at times borders on that of DM’s cousin subgenre, Brutal Death Metal, and while it’s an intense listen throughout, I recently found myself listening to it while fighting off a pretty intense migraine headache; albeit at a much more reasonable volume than the album deserves, or even requires. With song titles such as “Orgasmic Spiritual Ecstasy,” SC isn’t a DM band for the prudish, prim, and proper; but is any Death Metal? – Is there Christian Death Metal – the most ironic of all DM subgenres?
Regardless, if you’re a fan of the likes of traditional modern Death Metal heavyweights like The Black Dahlia Murder, Dying Fetus, Obituary, The Faceless, and others, then you’re totally missing out on an entire discography of competent and interesting metal if you haven’t given Svart Crown a real listen. It’s Death Metal that stands on its own just as well as the any of aforementioned acts, and even brings some new and innovative, even if subtle, sounds to the table. Svart Crown is a little known band that deserves big-time exposure, especially if you’re a fan of forward-thinking genre-boundary stretching (not breaking) Death Metal. “Abreaction;” is an album that I am certain will end up near the top of my year end best of list, as I can’t get enough of it even after multiple back-to-back listens. And the next time you’re looking for some new and interesting Death Metal, check out some of the newest exports from your favorite French-speaking country/city (Montreal, Quebec, and France immediately come to mind), as you’re sure to uncover something interesting happening in their metal scenes if you simply dig deep enough.