Svart Crown - Wolves Among the Ashes
Century Media
Blackened Death Metal
8 songs (40:27)
Release year: 2020
Century Media
Reviewed by Goat

It's always interesting to check back in with a band after a few albums that you've missed from them, and compare/contrast to see what sort of changes and progressions have been made. In the case of French blackened death squad Svart Crown, not that many, despite the line-up being shuffled with a new bassist joining mastermind JB Le Bail, guitarist Clément Flandrois and drummer Nicolas "Ranko" Muller returning to the band after time in it previously. An almost complete change from the line-up that performed on 2017's Abreaction, then, yet it has much the same sort of sound, the Behemothic sturm und drang of 2010's Witnessing the Fall, although there is a more experimental mindset notable here.

Sure, after intro They Will Not Take Our Death in Vain mixes in some Jim Jones samples, first track proper Thermageddon is a guitar-driven blaster that's somewhere between the Poles and countrymen Gojira, tight grooves and roaring growls atop a nicely technical drum performance. But from then on things are a little slower and more expansive, such as the mid-paced Art of Obedience with its forays into clean-sung (well, snarled) prog-tinged passages and riff-worship, which the band are good at choosing. Blessed Be the Fools is even slower and groovier, a touch of industrial whirring and bleeping underneath and some epic choirs giving it a little more character, and while At the Altar of Beauty may throw an aggressive blackened gallop into the mix, the tech-y-death metal that takes back over at the midpoint shows where Svart Crown's heart is.

If there's a flaw to the album it's that it is a little too experimental, the gothic-tinged Triptykon-esque-ballad Down to Nowhere feeling out of place (very reminiscent of, say, a Phoenix-styled experiment that works by itself but just doesn't fit on a Satyricon album) next to the likes of Exoria which are more Gojira-by-way-of-Belphegor. And the closing eight minuter Living With the Enemy is very out-there, switching up the big-riffing groovy death with a kind of group sung post-rock melancholia closer to sludgy doom territory than Behemoth - an experiment that works, and really saves the album from being scored lower! Kudos to Svart Crown for taking risks when they could quite easily knock out identikit albums, it's good to see ambitiousness in the subgenre. Perhaps not the best record from the Frenchmen, when all is said and done, but still worth hearing for those who like the style.

Killing Songs :
Art of Obedience, At the Altar of Beauty, Living With the Enemy
Goat quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Svart Crown that we have reviewed:
Svart Crown - Witnessing The Fall reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
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