This is the second album from Swedish black metal band Night Crowned.
Featuring current and ex-members of bands such as Nightrage, The Unguided, Dark Funeral, and Imperium, Night Crowned play a melodic mix of black and death metal, (weighted towards the former), influenced by the 90s Scandinavian scene.
Night Crowned do a great job of combining elements of classic bands such as Marduk, Emperor, Dissection, Dimmu Borgir, and Behemoth, while still managing to avoid sounding stale or derivative. This is down to not only the skill of the band members, but also to their songwriting abilities, which are clearly operating at advanced levels.
The range of elements that the band display an easy mastery of is vast. From blasting blackened brutality to expansive atmospheric soundscapes, Night Crowned know their art intimately well. The songs can be brutal and scathing one moment, and grand and sublime the next. I love that Night Crowned’s melodic aggression is sharp and merciless, but I also love how majestic and epic they can become at the drop of a hat, with soaring clean vocals, bright melodies, and grandiose keyboards. This is a melodically rich album, but it’s presented in such a way that these melodies enhance the overall quality of the music, rather than saturating it at the expense of everything else.
There’s a lot to like here. The keyboards remind me of prime time Dimmu Borgir, yet repurposed for Night Crowned’s own nefarious purposes. The solos are well-placed and high-impact, and there’s more catchiness and hooks here than you might be expecting. The vocals sound great no matter what they are doing; the piercing screams are perfectly judged, while the clean singing is exceptional, and used just the right amount to maximise their potency.
Hädanfärd is an exceptionally enjoyable work. If you’re looking for an album that captures the glory and feel of the second wave golden days, yet one that is delivered in a vibrant and satisfying way, then look no further than Hädanfärd.
Very highly recommended.
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