Welcome, humans. The results of the second poll came in late last Friday night, and while the voting was a bit tighter than last week’s, we have a clear victor in The Crown’s Eternal Death:
Initially, I thought this was a bit of an upset. But upon further review, it makes sense. Edge of Sanity could be well-actuallyed into “prog-death” or something; Gardenian is perpetually underrated (likely due to their brief burn and bizarre arc); and Mirrorworlds is probably a lot of people’s 2nd favorite Eucharist disc.
Plus, The Crown is gearing up for a new release in early 2018, looking to rebound from a pair of haggard, uninspired, and unimaginatively-titled reunion records in Doomsday King and Death Is Not Dead. The album is rumored to be a bit of a mea culpa, and with guitarist Marko Tervonen cranking out adorable videos like this, goodwill is on their side.
So before we dive into Eternal Death, there are two things y’all need to know:
- The Crown’s 2000 and 2002 releases, Deathrace King and Crowned in Terror, are two of my favorite metal albums of all time, especially Deathrace; I even have the title of the that record tattooed on my sternum because HEAVY METAL WOOOOOOOOOOoooo
- I hadn’t heard a note of Eternal Death until last Saturday
Part of my aversion to this album was that it seemed like a formative / transitional entry in their catalog; after all, 1997 was a formative / transitional time for the genre itself. Also, it was the last album that they released under the Crown of Thorns moniker, so it seemed like a completely different era. (The name change to The Crown was one of the few successful “THE ——” re-brandings; remember when Gorerotted put out an album as The Rotted? Or when Irv Gotti changed Murder Inc. to The Inc.? Ew.) Eternal Death felt…skippable.
Is it? Probably!
But it’s also cool as fuck sometimes.
Back in ’97, The Crown hadn’t yet become the razor-sharp thrashsaw from Deathrace King, but they could still throw down. While the stringmen show flashes of their freewheeling, cockrock-cranked-to-twelve riffcraft here, it’s drummer Janne Saarenpää and vocalist Johan Lindstrand that are the real draws. They’re sloppy, savage, and completely off-the-rails at times, and when they lose it, it fuckin rules.
The main issue with Eternal Death is the same thing that plagues all of The Crown’s releases: The fast songs rip shit, and the slow ones are hella dull. Like Midnight and Goatwhore, I just want the fastness from these dudes, and there are a couple of eight-minute-plus plodders that, well, ain’t “Killing Star.”
Anyway, TO THE SCORES
This is the most melodeath that the The Crown gets–I firmly maintain that their 2000’s material was death/thrash and not Gothenburg–but it’s still not very melo. 1997, as we’ve discussed, was still the infancy of the subgenre, and while there’s a blurry buzziness to these occasionally-upbeat deathriffs that shares a common thread with their Swedish brethren, Eternal Death is more offshoot than cornerstone.
Artistic Badness: 6
So the coolest song is called “Beautiful Evil Soul” and my final project in eighth-grade art was literally this album cover but only marginally worse, so there is some minor-league decision-making and ESL clumsiness at play. But there’s not much in the way of the egregious wordmash that plagued Gardenian or In Flames at this point, as the The Crown mostly leaned on DM tropes like dying angels and dying forever and killing priests.
Magnus Olsfelt, you sexy bitch. You made 1991 David Vincent look like 2017 David Vincent.
And Johan, those chops. Good god.
While this is a cool entry in the band’s catalog and a interesting look at a young band that was a mere three years from blowing the earth’s crust off the fucking planet, it’s definitely in the middle/lower tier of their releases and really only one for genre diehards or Crown completists.