After the release of their EP “Come Hell” it only seemed natural that Portland Oregon residents Dead Crown would get picked up by Stay Sick Recordings. They’re a perfect fit for the kind of band that have been appearing on their roster of late and so to see the quartet – Brent Sheffield (Bass), Bryton WIlson (Drums), Kendall Johns (Vocals) and Eric Gemme (Guitar) – announced wasn’t a surprise at all. The surprise is in fact the quartet of guest vocal appearances across eight tracks with Felipe Aleman (Brothers Till We Die) DaBoiJ (Bone Crew), Iamjakehill and Aidan Holmes (Dealer) all getting a turn on the Mic…
…Dead Crown have called “Crucify Me” an EP but at 26 minutes and 8 tracks it will count as an album on streaming services. Opening cut “Repent” is a single verse of regrets with Downtempo Gloom riffs accompanying a hip-hop vibe of loose drum fills, expected not least because of the pair of rappers appearing on the album. An eerie background sound gives a Weeping Wound vibe found on “Pain” and the pair could easily tour together. “Old Friends” steps up the Gloom guitar work and brings in the unclean vocal battery that was heard on “Come Hell” with plenty of bass pounding and some programmed drum loops in a hip-hop breakdown moment that changes the dynamic before it bites back. Lyrically, the old friends have become enemies of known entity, hated fakes and phonies with a some odd rap bursts bringing Gift Giver vocalist Justin Johnson a run for his money. “Family” features the first guest appearance with Felipe Aleman of Brothers Till We Die lending his throat. The Spanish crew style shifted somewhat from Metallica Hardcore to a more Deathcore oriented sound with their last album and as you might expect, Aleman delivers a powerhouse performance. Eerie haunting synths add tension while the thunderous broken riff patterns play out over a mix of unclean savageness and clean hip-hip bursts. Musically Dead Crown have upped their game to create something that sounds like a hybrid of the current Attila sound meeting the Gloom of Alpha Wolf and Dealer. Introducing a few Nu-Metal isms with vinyl scratches in “Twenty Four” which bounces along at a higher tempo and has a longer clean rapped vocal verse. It’s not that it’s not good, it’s that there isn’t anything new at this point and while the first half is sold and has instant appeal it doesn’t necessarily mean it will stand up to regular multiple listens.
The second half if you will begins with “Down” which features DaBoiJ of Bone Crew otherwise known at the Trap Metal side project of Chris Fronzak. The rapper hails from Detroit and while you might expect a hip-hop orientated track, instead we get treated to a bludgeoning set of Gloom Metal riffs and eerie tones before DaBoiJ appears for a classic Rap Metal break. His extended verse sees a break in the stuccato riffs and Nu-Metal introspections of the lyrics and makes the track a stand out moment. “Comin’ Up” sees the second guest vocal appearance from a rapper in Iamjakehill and while there is no programmer or DJ named in the initial credits there are plenty of those elements in the mix. As you might expect from the title, the track is snippets of tales of 10 years on the grind and hustle to get Dead Crown to a position where they can make cash and have a name. Blending melody with off kilter clean riffs in eerie horror movie guitar tones during some of the quieter verse moments and then hitting hard during the chorus with some juddering heavier tones makes for a tension loaded cut. The title track “Crucify Me” is a slow thumper which doesn’t stray from the path the band have set upon. Blending a distorted spoken word with rap screams and even a rap keeps things flowing nicely though the trudge of slow riffs which while being head nodding are far from pit worthy due to the pacing but remain solid and dark none the less. “Worse Than Death” closes the album with a guest vocal appearance from Aidan Holmes Dealer and formerly Alpha Wolf. Riding high on the success of their debut EP “Soulburn” and tours with the likes of Thy Art is Murder, Holmes raises the quality while the band stick firmly to the slower crushing crunch and some big drum fills. Bass heavy, it feels like it needs a tempo shift to inject more adrenaline into it. As with the first half of the album, there is a distinct formula in play and the need for every track to have a clean rapped part ends being something you wait to hear rather than popping up in the mix and not in a good way. If “Crucify Me” had dropped 5 years ago it would have sounded new and fresh but the lack of anything faster paced is like an anchor weighing it down at times [5.5/10]
Family (Ft. Felipe Aleman of Brothers Till We Die)
Down (Ft. DaBoiJ of Bone Crew)
Comin’ Up (Ft. Iamjakehill)
Worse Than Death (Ft. Aidan Holmes Dealer, ex-Alpha Wolf)
“Crucify Me” by Dead Crown is out now via Stay Sick Recordings