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February 2, 2023

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The Crown
Possessed 13 (Metal Blade)

By: Vinnie Apicella

"Possessed 13" is a statement of endurance for the Swedish extremists. Now in their 13th year, they've created 13 new tracks of fresh blood and blasphemous rage the way we've come to expect. The name's the same, only the Lindberg has changed. The Crown tore through the gates of Death Metal back in '98 with their impressive "Hell Is Here," the first release for Metal Blade. But early last year, having added renowned At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg and recorded the acclaimed "Crowned In Terror" release, the band was lauded by fans and critics alike as having created a true masterpiece that functioned fully on all fronts of the Death Metal and musical extreme.

It is therefore understandable that the band roars back with a vengeance in the wake of their short-lived union with Lindberg, and the reunion with the original vocalist, here doubling as the customary "Satan from Hell," Johan Lindstrand. Lindstrand's intense howls and growls pierce the night sky with a horrific effect that couldn't be more graphic if the bringer of death himself were to come calling. Something to prove? The band may never admit it, but the proof's irrefutable in the playing. Had they never recorded the famed "Crowned In Terror," The Crown had already consistently developed as one of the premiere players in the Death industry.

"Possessed 13" is an artfully drawn creation wrought of extreme excess. The band's integrity and intensity is fully fit and the songs remain chilling and coarse as ever. Divided among three parts, "Initiation," "Exaltation," and "Annihilation," or beginning, middle, and untimely end, it's everything we've come to expect from The Crown and a whole lot more. Tracks like "No Tomorrow," "Deliverance," and "Are You Morbid?" which features some of the most dynamic fretwork on a record wrought with dual guitar-playing prowess, display the hard, cold side of the band, with their tuned low riffing and efficient killing speed, ably supported by the machine-like behind the kit, kicking exploits. The devastation, however, is met with reflective moments of melody and gothu-drama as indicated by the tuneful instrumentals of "Dream Bloody Hell" and the closing "In Memoriam," further setting apart The Crown as conscientious musicians at the core of the mayhem.

While the first seven tunes are forcibly drawn speed-driven works of extreme aggression designed for maximum damage, The Crown's procurement of the traditionalized Metal structure that recalls the "darker age" of merging melody and evil, "harmony and blasphemy" if you will, which peaks through the black on tracks like the tunefully catchy "Bow To None," Thrash and groove of "Kill 'Em All," and pure chill-effect on the epic pre-closer, "Dawn Of Emptiness." The Crown's created another true masterpiece in the vein of early Entombed, Carcass, and recently bands like Soilwork or Kataklysm. "Possessed 13" also features ghastly splatter film-style front cover work and for those lucky enough to score the limited edition deluxe black set with bonus disc, there'll lie a pleasant surprise as the band revisits and reduces their earliest original demo and studio recordings to ashes for all the world to witness.

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