Royal Destroyer marks over 30 years of existence for The Crown (they spent their first eight known as Crown of Thorns). Hailing from Sweden, The Crown’s extreme metal style defies a single “Swedish death metal band” classification. They don’t fit within the box of Sunlight Studio bands — no Entombed clone by any means. Although sometimes listeners hear melodic death in their sound, especially on their magnum opus Crown In Terror, which featured melodeath figurehead Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates, their sound encompasses more styles. Royal Destroyer is a good example of this diversity with moments of death metal, grind, punk, thrash/speed and of course, melodic death metal.
The Crown pull no punches with opener “Baptized in Violence.” This track is short, barely more than a minute, and fast. Following a brief build up, the song takes off with unrelentingly fast drums and quick vocal lines, showing their grindcore side. “Let The Hammering Begin!,” a tribute to the late great Jeff Hanneman of Slayer, is a much longer song and not a full-on blast fest like its predecessor, but the track is still full of oomph with drumming that fits the title. “Motordeath” is diverse with elements of punk, thrash and melodic death metal.
While the first part of the album shows hints of melodic death metal, Johan Lindstrand’s voice will always give that impression that there is a lot more to these songs than just melodic death metal. The melodeath becomes much more noticeable mid-way through on “Glorious Hades.” It moves at a mid-pace heavy with groove, a melodic bridge and solo. “We Drift” is the one track that is really conveys the melodeath sound. Rich, melodic leads, military marches and the type of guitar finger boarding Gothenburg made famous mark this track. While there are moments of old In Flames on “We Drift On,” some of the guitar play on the following song “Beyond The Frail” is a song in the vein of Dark Tranquillity.
Those looking for traditional death metal, check out “Devoid of Light.” The stop-and-start rhythms that mark its opening and chunky rhythms bring to mind Morbid Angel. Even though Royal Destroyer is extreme in scope, it rarely recalls traditional death metal, especially the Sunlight Studio variety of Swedish death. Along with the melodic death style, The Crown forge their own brand of extreme death metal heavy with thrash and melody.
Royal Destroyer will not disappoint long-time listeners. Having released at least one album four consecutive decades, the band has found a sound that works and fans enjoy. The group change tempos and styles without becoming predictable, but there is still a vibe that stays consistent throughout their discography. Henrik Axelsson has only manned the skins for a few years, but steps right into their consistently pummeling beat. Royal Destroyer is a fierce album that truly lives up to its name.
(released March 12, 2021 on Metal Blade Records)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch The Crown – “We Drift On” Video