Crown ov Horns [Malaysia]
Evil Dead Production
Being a sucker for awesome and epic album artworks, Crown ov Horns‘ second EP, Infernvs Dominatvs instantly caught my attention with its war-themed album artwork, complete with blasphemous imagery. One would almost expect an aggressive and epic black metal album based not only on the artwork, but also from the fact that the members behind the band also play in Sabah’s hellhorde Mantak.
Opening track Dethrone the Emperor sounds almost like a scene out of a coup against an oppressive regime before the EP begins proper, with riffs that would have been comfortable and suitable coming out from an Infernal War record. The heavy riffs unleashed by guitarist K. Helvete are relentless, emphasising the urgency that is felt in the music. Throughout the EP, his influences are displayed, such as the chugging section in the middle of Dethrone the Emperor, sounding almost like it came out of Infernal War‘s Conflagrator EP. The at times melodious guitar solos among the chaotic riffs on the album also enable them to stand out, further displaying his songwriting prowess.
The personal highlight here, other than the guitar work is certainly the drumming of Shaun. He pounds the skin with all the strength he has in his body, and to good effect. His speed, stamina and drumming style such as the play on the toms and cymbals remind listeners of Polish drumming giants like Infernal War/Thunderbolt‘s Stormblast or Behemoth/Azarath‘s Inferno. The chemistry between Shaun and K. Helvete are prominently displayed throughout the album such as on Warfare and Bloodshed‘s odd introductory riffs, unlike bands that see the guitarist and drummer trying to outdo and outshine each other.
What better way to top the whole band off than with the vocals of sessionist Rajj, further adding more aggression and more Polish flavour to the music, sounding like a more versatile version of Nergal with not only his gurgling growls, but at times registering a higher pitched growl as well. While the overall music reeks of Polish black/death metal, the band also brings in other influences as well. For instance, the introductory riff of Hill of Poisonous Trees almost remind me of Swedish death metal band Bloodbath‘s Outnumbering the Day, but similarly put into hyperactive mode. On tracks where there is a notable slowdown in the pace of the music, such as on The Machete, the band makes up for it with heaviness and aggression, making that track perhaps the heaviest one on Infervs Dominatvs.
The production quality of the album is also highly debated on this EP, with the songs being mixed extremely loud, causing clipping at some points. However, this product of the loudness war has certainly worked out well this time as it has managed to add a somewhat dirty sound to the songs, unlike the over-polished recent outputs of bands like Behemoth. Also, while many bands fail in making use of sound samples in their records, somehow the high usage of samples from scenes of war do not feel irritating at all, but conversely enhances the overall Crown ov Horns experience.
Infernvs Dominatvs is certainly a good demonstration of Polish-styled black/death metal in the veins of Behemoth, only put to a more extreme mode and is definitely recommended for fans of bands of Polish style or origins. Also, don’t be fooled by this being classified as an EP, as the album runs for a decent length of 40 minutes. Along with the recent Azarath release, this could very well be at the top of my Polish-styled black/death metal list for the year so far.
Listen to the fourth track, Warfare and Bloodshed using the SoundCloud player below: