NO(W) TOMORROW: THE RETURN OF THE CROWN
Though it was no surprise, The Crown’s 2004 break-up stung horribly not just for the loss of a classic and criminally underrated band, but the loss of one so obviously built to last. I think some bands succeed on pure propulsion, with great songs piled neck deep; within that class, the elite acts also master the album format: track order, intra-album dynamics, cover art and theme, and that intangible progression. Think of Led Zeppelin, who never made the same record and were only halted by death itself, as opposed to Metallica, who made one album repeatedly until they began to hate music, each other, themselves, and us. Well, The Crown was death metal’s Led Zep (and Deftones and Dandy Warhols and XTC), and once mature, just quietly set about releasing three distinct and definitive classics of metal: Deathrace King was exploitation death metal, the unstable brother to the good White Zombie record or alternate soundtrack to Death Proof with chainsaw fights. (See also: Goatwhore/Carving Out The Eyes of God.)
Then with the addition of Tomas Lindberg, then newly late of At The Gates, The Crown went supernova with Crowned In Terror. And for serious I’m trying to rein myself in here but I’ll still insist that no band has made catchier, more satisfying metal – not since Metallica went vaginal. Listening to CIT (and its remake, Crowned Unholy), I think of The Crown as a veteran gang of street brawlers: Tthe smaller guy throws gravel in your face and as you stagger around, scratching at your eyeballs, you get a 2×4 across the back and a wet boot to the nards. The truly ruthless gangs always have a knife guy, and sure enough you’re now missing an ear. As you stare down at a palmful of blood, your tears greatly amuse the one guy who hasn’t yet struck you but seems satisfied to aloofly mock your suffering.
That was Crowned In Terror, at which point The Crown was – to those who’d noticed – the band most likely to record the millennium’s best metal record. Then 2003 brought their swan song, Possessed 13, the millennium’s best metal record. No longer the scruffy street toughs, the men of The Crown had now Voltron-ed into a single merciless nuclear warhead with ten legs. Unfortunately, with scant promotion and a well-deserved aversion to sketchy tours, this weapon of doom and its operators were stranded on a desert planet with nothing to destroy. It would be the end of The Crown.
But fans had reason to live again last summer, when The Crown (minus screamer Johan Lindstrom) announced a reformation of sorts as Dobermann, and the search for a new singer. I was apprehensive: a new singer means altered chemistry, not to mention the bland band name. But maybe that was just a dodge (the vestiges of old contracts?) or a front to get the right singer (Jonas Stålhammar of God Macabre), not merely the most ambitious one (a stint with Deathstars singer Andreas Bergh, the failed Lindberg experiment). Either way, the shuck is over: The Crown is back.