Thursday 25 June 2015

C R O W N - Natron (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: June 15th 2015
Label: Candlelight Records

The Fifth Element - Track Listing:

1 Serpents - ( feat Neige / Alcest )
2 The Words You Speak Are Not Your Own - ( feat Frederyk Rotter / Zatokrev )
3 Wings Beating Over Heaven - ( feat Michiel Eikenaar/Nihill - Neige/Alcest )
4 Fossils - ( feat Khvost/Grave pleasures ex Beastmilk )
5 Apnea
6 Tension Of Duality - ( feat Frederyk Rotter/Zatokrev )
7 Flames

Band Members

Stephane Azam : Guitars, Machines, Vocals
Frederyk Rotter : Guitars, Vocals
Pascal Guth : Guitars


Hailing from France, C R O W N, are three men and a machine who tune their neutron guitars to the Richter scale, and deliver the sound of a molten universe collapsing. Touching on early Isis, Godflesh, Floor and even Killing Joke, C R O W N explore the depths of slow tempos on their debut album, The One, and their split EP with St Valley through sheer exuberant heaviness.

The trio’s depth-charging guitars and buried melodic tendencies snake around hissing electronics, a tribal / military percussive thwack, and the splashing cymbals of a minimal-yet-completely-effective drum-machine. Their sound is further emboldened by a massive bestial roar, heavy and oppressive, leading to an abyss of nothingness…. Welcome to the dark, spiraling, and obscure experiments of C R O W N.

Since January 2014, Frederyk Rotter from Zatokrev joined forces for a three piece crushing live act.


Combining metal with electronic elements is a tricky business that often ends in tears. There have been some notable triumphs in this area, namely projects involving Justin Broadrick, but these are greatly outnumbered by embarrassing failures. French trio CROWN are a band that sit firmly in the “triumph” category.

On paper, their combination of heavy riffs with periods of melodic calm sounds like any post-metal band, but CROWN’s execution really sets them apart. Quiet/loud dynamics are a commonly-used tool of the trade but CROWN have gone a step further on “Natron” with strong usage of quiet/REALLY LOUD dynamics. The opening riff of “Serpents” kicks the listener straight in the gut with a distortion tone that feels like wading through tar whilst retaining a buzzing sharpness. This intensity is present through all of the loud sections of the album and is most potent during the gut-churning crawl of “Tension of Duality”. Playing this over the mechanistic thud of a drum machine gives the music an unrelenting heaviness, freed from the limitations of puny human drumming. Quieter passages with subtle electronic overtones break up the noise, giving an overall sound that brings to mind A Storm of Light if they had been given a robotic combat upgrade.

Fossils” provide a welcome chance to catch your breath in the middle of “Natron”. Free of distortion, the track has a post-punk feel propelled by driving basslines and a considerable increase in tempo from the surrounding torpor. It offers a stark contrast to the rest of the album but feels a little too polished to completely work. CROWN shake things up to better effect on finale, “Flames”. A brooding slow-burner, it begins with sparse piano and keyboards before distortion slowly creeps back in, albeit in a more muted and controlled fashion than the bludgeoning elsewhere. This track ends the album in fine style and gives an idea of other sonic avenues the band could explore on later releases.

By stretching all of the constituent elements of a post-metal band to their extremes and setting them against an electronic backdrop, CROWN have created a very distinctive sound. “Natron” breathes life into a genre that can be a bit stale and does so in considerable style.can't wait to get my hands on the double gatefold LP. Be thankful that music like this is being made again.

Words by Charlie Butler

Thanks To Darren at Candlelight Records for the promo. Natron will be available to buy now on CD/DD from Candlelight Records.

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