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Svart Crown - Wolves Among the Ashes Award winner

Svart Crown
Wolves Among the Ashes
by Chris Hawkins at 06 January 2020, 1:27 PM

French Extreme Metal – it must certainly be brutal in parts of France.  Well, that is, if you subscribe to the notion that artistic output is influenced by geographical setting i.e. Norwegian Black Metal, Swedish Death Metal, and NWOBHM.  Bands like DEATHSPELL OMEGA, BLUT AUS NORD, and SVART CROWN support that notion.  Embarrassingly, I had not heard this band previously despite “Wolves Among the Ashes” being their fifth full-length now.  Their version of Blackened Death Metal is so furiously precise that the band have tapped into a creative gold mine with this record.

Usually, Extreme Metal sacrifices rhythm for atmosphere much of the time, but this approach completely ignores that.  Instead, mighty minor chords are strung together with a syncopation locked in with the double bass.  As the album progresses, this is further elaborated, if not explored.  Certainly, this is not new within any region of the genre; however, this is the culmination of influences that helped shape the technically-proficient musicians in this band.  Thus, a reaction of sorts occurs.

The album works so very well because it develops with peaks and valleys due to not only rhythm but tone and feel as well.  The intro, “They Will Not Take Our Death in Vain,” serves its position correctly by gathering anticipation and excitement for the first single that follows, “Thermageddon,” a penultimate moment in brutality.  In the same way, even as PANTERA’s “Far Beyond Driven” or MORBID ANGEL’s “Domination” both open with a cathartic onslaught of raw fury and aggression, so SVART CROWN follow suit.  The next two tracks, “Art of Obedience,” and “Blessed Be the Fools,” explore more rhythmic-centered approaches, still retaining the dark feel overall.

Overall, it is a powerful album that unabashedly attempts to synthesize all the influences many Metal Fans gravitate toward.  Just because I’m wearing my BURZUM shirt one day doesn’t mean I don’t like MAYHEM, or DOWN, etc.  The list goes on.  Those bands were just random examples, but the point is made. Tracks six, “Down to Nowhere,” an almost-ballad with a very NOLA sound, that swampy SABBATH goodness, and the following, “Exoria,” are both melodically rich.  They demonstrate a side of the band unafraid of creating intense-yet catchy tracks with clean vocals, however the mood is retained.

The bottom line feeling for me with this album is it reminds me of how I felt when first listening to STRAPPING YOUNG LAD’s “City,” another demonstration of a band willing to creatively explore a merging of melody with a dense, rhythmically-militant approach.  In both cases, the music is given a broader appeal and while some may frown upon that, in this case, the band is true to their ethos creating dark hymns that at times summon CROWBAR while mixing in Black Metal elements with Florida Death Metal’s crushing rhythms.  That whole synthesis of sounds at play here would be a topic in and of itself that would serve well to be looked into closer.  There is an ebb and flow at work here that is created from a wealth of influence and technique, and it makes for a prodigious listening experience overall.

Songwriting:  9
Originality:  9
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. They Will Not Take Our Death in Vain
2. Thermageddon
3. Art of Obedience
4. Blessed Be the Fools
5. At the Altar of Beauty
6. Down to Nowhere
7. Exoria
8. Living with the Enemy
Lineup:
JB LeBail – Vocals, Guitars
Clément Flandrois – Guitars, Vocals
Nicolas “Ranko” Muller – Drums
Julien Negroa – Bass, Vocals
Record Label: Century Media
     


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Edited 21 January 2020
 

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