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The Crown Possessed 13

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Tuesday, January 20, 2004 @ 7:17 PM


(Metal Blade)

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Though long overshadowed by the likes of At The Gates and Entombed, The Crown has been one of Sweden’s most dependable and durable thrash metal exports. And with the return of original vocalist Johan Lindstrand -- after a one-album stint with the ubiquitous Tomas (At The Gates/Disfear/Lock Up/The Great Deceiver/Nighrage) Lindberg – the band is a volatile and vicious as ever on Possessed 13. The album marks The Crown’s 13-year anniversary by going into the way-back machine to revisit some old-school riffs from the band’s beginnings and mix them a fresh new, batch that – like the old candy bar ad said – makes for two great tastes that taste great together. In fact, the American release includes a bonus second disc of demo material from the early ‘90s where you can hear some of Possessed 13’s music in its crude, original form.

And it offers ample evidence of just how much The Crown has evolved – but without sacrificing its underground soul like Entombed, which is still trying to live down the dreadfully middle-of-the-road Same Difference from like ‘98.

Like many of the new wave of Swedish thrash bands that have followed in its wake (The Haunted, Corporation 187), The Crown is adept at taking speed metal intensity and death metal ferocity and fusing it with a riffiness that gives it all a surprising, almost effortless catchiness. As mean-ass as much of Possessed 13 is, it’s still a remarkably easy album to warm up to. Marcus Sunesson and Marko Tervonen’s wicked hooks and deft, nitro-fueled interplay is magnificent -- and as engaging as it is brutal, especially on “Cold Is The Grave” and “Are You Morbid?”

Despite the time away, Lindstrand’s lost none of his authority or venom. He might not write the lyrics – Tervonen and bassist Magnus Olsfelt are the misanthropic poets here – but with his drill-sergeant delivery and menacing presence, Lindstrand’s like a man, well, possessed behind the mic here. And when he bellows “This deathmachine is gonna kill ‘em all,” I’d take his word for it.

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