Written by Kep
Crown Magnetar – Alone in Death
Deathcore from Colorado, US
Releasing March 25 via Unique Leader Records
Seventeen seconds. That’s as long as Crown Magnetar can be bothered to wait before they commence pummeling the listener with the brutal knuckledusters of devastating riffage for the better part of twenty minutes. Five tracks later you can expect two things: there won’t be much left of what you used to call your face, and you probably enjoyed every second of its obliteration.
Crown Magnetar, in case you’re not familiar, is a pissed-off four-man outfit out of Colorado Springs that plays a particularly bristling, fiery brand of deathcore. They’re uber-precise and strike a satisfying balance between dumb heavy caveman thumping, unrelenting drum-led aggression, and a smattering of technical flourishes. If you haven’t yet, you should give their impressive debut full-length The Codex of Flesh a listen while you wait for this EP to drop. It was good enough, in fact, that tech/slam guru label Unique Leader took note and signed them in January of this year. Alone in Death is their major label coming-out party.
So how is it? Well, at the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it’s high-quality deathcore, a powder keg of explosive power that demolishes through shear unrelenting heaviness. That rock-solid blend of signature deathcore elements is notable—there are plenty of sweet chug riffs, the breakdowns and slams are weighty enough to level city blocks, and, most crucially, the songs don’t overstay their welcome or beat their musical ideas to death. Check out “Hellsphere”, for example, that blends moments of rapid-fire industrial grit with blackened screeching, demonic gutturals, and fat -core grooves, slams, and beatdown rhythms. It’s a testament to the quality of their writing that they can sit on that classic syncopated DUN-DUN-DUN-DUN breakdown pattern for a half-minute at the end of the track without it getting boring.
They’re not reinventing the subgenre or anything, but you’ll find that Crown Magnetar consistently deliver infectious grooves across Alone in Death’s 19-minute runtime. It feels like every song has multiple riffs built for slamming in your living room or enticing you into scrambling your brains in the pit. I double dog dare you to keep still during moments like the muscular headbang grooves at :45 of “The Pain of Existence”, and the breakdowns, the quintessential element of deathcore’s oeuvre, are as bonecrushing as meeting a 16-ton truck head-on. I do find, though, that the writing sometimes falls into the trap of inserting a crushing breakdown that doesn’t seem to have much correlation with what came before it. The destruction is still easy to appreciate, so I can forgive, but it’s a common knock in the style that I hope they can move past.
Alone in Death notably benefits from a commanding vocal performance from frontman Dan Tucker, whose range is more impressive than that of the often-praised Will Ramos of Lorna Shore. Tucker bree brees (yep, I’m using it as a verb) with the best of them and his throaty low and mid roars are delivered with every bit of his chest. He even mixes in hellish blackened screams on several occasions, most notably in closer “God is My Enemy”. He’s got undeniable presence and great versatility.
Produciton-wise, you can probably guess what you’re getting out of a Unique Leader deathcore release in 2022, and I don’t mean that negatively. The clarity is fantastic, the guitars have weight, and the balance of instruments is excellent without the whole thing sounding overprocessed; the drum tone shies away from that obnoxiously tight, soulless sound that’s popular with techdeath bands, even though Byron London’s performance is replete with more triggers than an NRA convention. If you enjoy that signature Unique Leader-core sound then this is right up your alley, but if you don’t then expect to be turned off.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Alone in Death, the major label debut from these deathcore up-and-comers, delivers exactly what anyone who’s familiar with their previous releases would expect: scorching precision brutality with just enough technical fretwork to keep things from getting bogged down. These six songs are vicious and tailor-made for breaking shit. If you don’t dig modern deathcore then this won’t change your mind, but if you do make sure to give this newest offering a spin.