Blackened death metal requires a complex formula. It is not a hybrid state between black and death metal, where 50% of each individual component will give you the appropriate result. Svart Crown belongs in the few bands that understand how to get his sound right, and they have been traveling this distance since their debut album, Ages of Decay, came out in 2008. It is no coincidence either that in relatively short duration of time, Svart Crown have moved from local, underground record labels, to Listenable which released their excellent 2013 work Profane along with 2010's Witnessing the Fall, to the front lines of extreme metal with Century Media putting out their newest work Abreaction.
Through the years, Svart Crown do not follow so much a process of evolution, but rather one of maturity. This is not a band which will open its sound to new, external influences, it is a project focused on perfecting their craft. This process comes with a rejuvenated spirit here, mainly due to the inclusion of new members Kevin Paradis and Kevin Varley, both of Aggressor, on drums and guitars respectively. It is usually the case that new band members will bring an aura of change to a band, and Svart Crown appear hungrier today, more eager to create. And even though there are important changes on how they operate, they make sure to keep them in check, with revisiting their previous routine. They do not deviate in the production of the record for instance, choosing to work once more with Francis Caste (has also worked with Klone, Hangman's Chair and Cowards) on the production helm, someone who knows how to get the balance between clarity and weight, a very important aspect of Svart Crown's sound.
Another constant is artist Stefan Thanneur, who the band also worked with on Profane, creating the fantastic artwork for Abreaction. There is a deep connection between the cover of the album, the title itself referring to the release of repressed emotion through reliving experiences that have caused them, and the music itself. Even though Svart Crown do not necessarily evolve, they start to pay attention to different aspects of their sound, and in the case of Abreaction, the focus has been the atmosphere for the music. That is not to say that their sound has been tamed, far from it, they unleash some of their most frantic assaults yet, for example in “Upon This Intimate Madness.”
Covering the black and death metal core is a ritualistic element, of profound mysticism. The artwork and the record title are not the only areas this element appears, with lyrics focusing on aspects of African and voodoo rituals, creating a fume-y sense of primal spirituality. It is a practice that is apparent in extreme metal, and when implemented correctly it can achieve stunning results, a method that bands as diverse as Septic Flesh and Nile have followed, and examples actually appearing as early as with Morbid Angel. Similarly, Svart Crown travel to the city of “Carcosa,” created by Ambrose Bierce and later borrowed by the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Chambers, examine the concept of “Transubstantiation,” by which the bread and wine are transformed to the body and blood of Christ during mass, and draw influence on the human psyche from films like Mon Roi, to construct the cyclothymic “Upon This Intimate Madness.” It all works in building a work of brutal introspection, and results in their most complete work to date.
8.0 / 10
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