Sweden’s The Crown is back with its first album in five years. Death is Not Dead retains the band’s primitive ferocity and love for speed. Album opener “Reign” is a brooding instrumental that serves as a sign of the madness to ensue. The next track, “Headhunter,” also serves as the album’s first single. It is a dynamic strike to the jugular showing that the band’s absence has not dulled it in the slightest. The Crown emphasizes brutality over finesse, a signature that distinguishes the group from its contemporaries. The track really takes off at the 3 minute as the riffs shriek like a bat out of Hell.
The classically tinged “Iblis Bane” picks up where “Headhunter” left off. It is a blistering thrash track with intricate Baroque inspired riffs reminiscent of At The Gates. Guitarists Marko Tervonen and Robin Sorqvist throw out some solid leads over the frantic drumming of newcomer Henrik Axelsson. The unholy march of “Eternal” is a riveting mid-paced stomp that evokes a sense of melancholy triumph. Of course, The Crown cannot slow things down for long and “Speed Kills (Full Moon Ahead)” is another blitzkrieg of riffs and percussion. The grinding “Herd of Swine” rolls like a machine herding pigs to their fate. The mechanical drumming heightens the ominous mood of the track while the guitars plod along. The album closer “Godeater” sounds like a god consuming ultra-deity from which nothing can escape. It closes the album in barbarous fashion, giving the listener no to room to breathe.
Death is No Dead is a strong record in an era where several established bands have released stellar “comeback” albums. The production is clear and the songwriting strong. While some tracks are blocky, it is overlooked due to the band’s sincerity and passion. The Crown delivered the goods and speed never felt so good.