THE CROWN - ROYAL DESTROYER
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
DEVILISH REBELLION WITH BLASTBEATS
"Can you stop doing that tapping?". "Are you nervous?". "Have you got an anxious tick?". Have you ever been asked these questions because your head is full of blastbeats and double kicks? If you have this issue, then it won't be abated by The Crown. The highly experienced, time-served Swedes have dished out their 11th long player and the decades have not mellowed them.
120 seconds of blastbeat-propelled warpspeed thrash kicks off Royal Destroyer. Feral, snarling but clinical and with a soupcon of grind, Baptized in Violence is, as its title suggests, a robust introduction. It is a rattling start for any death metal record and this seething fusion of heyday underground thrash and Swedish precision death metal is the riotous alchemy that runs through the course of this album.
When it comes to sheer velocity, The Crown have it nailed and the tempo is unrelenting for the first half of this record. The high-jinks of militant blastbeats that course through Let the Hammering Begin combine with heads down Kreator-meets-Vader surgical thrash while there are traces of early Metallica or Exodus in the punk-smelling Motordeath (a not too oblique reference to the early Bay Area scene) which is surely a shoe-in for future live setlists. The fretwork on these and the likes of Ultra Faust or Full Metal Justice is simply possessed and is stylistically reminiscent of the sub-Big Four underground thrash but with a clinical production execution. The percussion, meanwhile, needs a particular mention as it is breath taking in places with a blitz of blastbeats, double pedal work and snare abuse creating an indominable engine behind the hellish din. Just listen to the adrenalized performance on Beyond the Frail for a good example.
The only refuge from the speed addiction are a few slower tracks such as the mid-paced chug of Glorious Hades or the forlorn stand-out melodeath of We Drift On with its soaring emotive hooks. These are decent but brief and The Crown can't help pressing the accelerator and the souped-up parting shots of Beyond the Frail and Absolute Monarchy are like a hail of sonic bullets.
Royal Destroyer is feisty stuff from these reliable veterans. The lyrics, with their faux-Satanic rebel silliness, and the Warhammer-esque imagery are hackneyed and - it is to be hoped - not to be taken entirely seriously. Instead it should be accepted as an affectionately kitsch nod to thrash progenitors and a nostalgic tip of the hat to the over-the-top oafishness of the 1980s - imagery which would no longer disconcert your average primary school pupil. That matters little though as the racket is unholy. With global pandemic restrictions on movement easing and the resumption of commuting more likely then this anti-experimental, trend-proof Chief Rebel Angel stuff will have you frantically air drumming on the train.