Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 16th March 2018
Genre: Death/Thrash Metal
In almost three decades as a group, Swedish death/thrash metallers The Crown would probably admit their brightest years were those signed to Metal Blade Records, so it’s fitting their tenth record, Cobra Speed Venom sees a return to the label that helped kick start their momentum back in the day.
Beginning with Destroyed By Madness, don’t be fooled by its slow start, it takes less than two minutes to set the tone for the entire record and kick into a blaze of thrash intensity that barely fails to let up from the get go.
The Crown certainly sound like they have a point to prove, and while ripping your face off from start to finish isn’t particularly a bad thing, it does become a little predictable and repetitive at times. There’s so many thrashing riffs and blast beats to get through it feels like there’s so much on offer, yet too little variation.
Now then, where the band really avails is when they shift momentum in a slightly different direction. We Avenge! offers much slower, Pray For Villains era DevilDriver hooks, Necrohammer provides fists in the air, shout at the top of your lungs moments and Iron Crown is certain to be a fan favourite for years to come.
It’s these moments which really sink in, while the speed is there, they’re hook driven as opposed to hell bent on pace, and that’s what puts a smile on my face with Cobra Speed Venom. It’s not that the thrash elements are particularly bad; it’s just that there’s too much of it to digest across the record, switching their style often does them the world of good.
Where My Grave Shall stand is a much needed break towards the back end of the record and feels like a solid live set closer to bring the tone down, and I really felt Cobra Speed Venom should’ve ended there. Instead, it kicks on to The Sign of the Scythe which is yet another blistering track, but one of the best on the record. Out of nowhere the song transitions into a real slow paced sludger of a riff, easily one of the album’s best moments right there and an element that should have been utilised more, it completely caught me off guard.
The Crown have delivered an air-tight metal record that ticks every box of their influences and more, there’s plenty of bang for your buck whether it’s old school Tampa death metal you’re into or the modern day grooves of Lamb of God and DevilDriver. I had good fun listening to this, and despite wanting further variation in pace and some quality control, if a ‘less is more’ approach was taken in future this band would be on to an absolute world-beater. There’s certainly life in the old dogs yet.
Cobra Speed Venom will be released March 16th 2018 and is available to pre-order via Metal Blade Records
Recommended Track: We Avenge!