After decades of increasingly extreme takes on the metal formula, it can be hard to find bands that will truly pin you to the wall with sheer ferocity. The Crown, of course, have always been that way. Although ostensibly a straightforward death metal band, the Swedes have always been a versatile bunch, writing songs that brandish hooks like bloodied machetes while steamrollering the shit out of everything in their path. With a production that packs such an eye-watering punch that you may fear for your own skull’s integrity, Royal Destroyer is frequently laugh-out-loud brutal and gloriously, unapologetically metal-as-fuck from bruising start to cataclysmic finish.
This is the strongest and most diverse set of songs The Crown have penned in years, perhaps even since 2002’s immaculate Crowned In Terror. Those trademark bursts of psychotic speed are here in abundance, of course. Brutish opener Baptized In Violence, the hell-for-leather Full Metal Justice and the d-beat blitzkrieg of Scandinavian Satan are all thoroughly obnoxious and deeply satisfying, while Devoid Of Light is an electrifying, pitch-black assault that reeks of atavistic death metal purity.
Elsewhere, the title of Let The Hammering Begin! tells us all we need to know. But it’s the more adventurous material that slams home The Crown’s uniqueness; Ultra Faust is a wicked rollercoaster ride of full-bore blasting and doomy detours; Glorious Hades is a grimly melodic melodrama with acres of atmosphere; We Drift On is a stirring, old-school metal waltz with a giant, fists-in-the-air chorus. Each has plenty of dynamics, but every last riff, roar and kick-drum thud connects with the kind of seismic force that simply cannot be faked. If you want subtlety, look elsewhere. If you would rather be smashed to bits by heavy fucking metal, listen to The Crown.