Artist: Crown Magnetar
Album: The Codex of Flesh
Defined, a codex is an ancient manuscript preserved in text form—but in common speech, it takes on a different connotation. It becomes a compendium of sorts; something sprawling, containing an entire lexicon of knowledge buried within and between its pages. To the author, it’s a life’s work; to the reader, it’s an open door to learning and understanding. In many ways, this notion of what a codex is (as opposed to only what it means) applies perfectly to the debut full length release, The Codex of Flesh. While it isn’t ancient—Hell, it hasn’t even been released yet—it is an immense and comprehensive approach to deathcore. Crown Magnetar combine technical elements with unending brutality to create the most vicious and carnal display of deathcore 2021—and maybe the several years prior—have seen to date. With moments of mind-melting speed standing in stark juxtaposition against moments of brain-battering brutality, The Codex of Flesh is a record that will keep the listener saying “wow” over and over and over again; it is not only this young band’s prodigal piece, but a record that has all the bearing to become a release by which deathcore records are compared against for the foreseeable future.
Every element of The Codex of Flesh is carefully crafted to blur the lines between technicality and neanderthal heaviness. This is especially true of Crown Magnetar’s immense percussion; once “Full Spectrum Hatred” kicks off, drummer Byron London doesn’t ever really slow down. London’s technical skill and precision are nothing less than immaculate–with every fill and stunning segue he works into The Codex of Flesh’s dense, meaty onslaught, the listener’s jaw slacks a little more. This is especially true of “Black Lotus” and “There is No Life Without Suffering,” but in honest truth, just about every second of every cut from Crown Magnetar see London proving he defies mere competency, and is instead one of the most technically skilled and insanely talented percussionists in contemporary heavy music. Not to be outdone, Crown Magnetar’s musical prowess doesn’t cease with London’s talents. Bassist Grant Robinson adds what feels like a literal ton of heft to every explosive breakdown the band have to offer. When he isn’t doing that, Robinson is bringing ferocious groove to the fast and lacerating nature of the riffs penned and played by guitarists Nick Burnett and Devin Williams. Burnett and Williams, in many aspects, are what keep The Codex of Flesh from being just a solid deathcore record. Where the breakdowns throughout the release are among the heaviest that come to mind, the fervor and intensity in the technical elements throughout songs like “Saprophytic” and “Death Architect,” let alone the record’s title track are stunning. The duo take every opportunity to inject smooth transitions between skin-rending riffs and prolapse-inducing slams and breakdowns to keep the record fresh. When London’s blast beats sound akin to a machine gun, the duo riff back and forth with practiced ease—but when “Dead Reflections” calls for girthy, grimy groove, the duo, with Robinson’s aid, are as ready as ever. There is not a single instrumental element on The Codex of Flesh that is unnecessary or out of place, and it all melds technical death metal and deathcore together with austere perfection.
The sheer boatloads of musical talent abundant on The Codex of Flesh create an intimidating canvas for Crown Magnetar’s vocals to live up to—something that frontman Dan Tucker has no issues with whatsoever. Tucker’s variety is matched only by the sensation of immolating hatred he packs into every syllable. While “Black Lotus” wastes no time in demonstrating his boundless versatility, songs like “Saprophytic” and the aptly named “Full Spectrum Hatred” see Tucker focusing less on variety and more on intensity, stringing together mind-boggling patterns with impeccable cadence, keeping the listener’s ears engaged while their jaw dangles loosely, unhinged. Tucker’s ability to match the technical voracity and bloodthirsty brutality (or anything in between) that Crown Magnetar’s resident instrumentalists are able to chuck his way is insane, simply put. His performance matches the performances by his band mates in the sense that it’s one for the record books.
For a genre that people complain is dying, deathcore has had its fair share of hits lately; whether it was Lorna Shore’s Immortal, AngelMaker’s self-titled release or, now, Crown Magnetar’s The Codex of Flesh, the genre has been abuzz with enough innovation to not only keep it afloat, but, in a sense flourishing. The Codex of Flesh is just that—a release that has everything it takes to become an authority where deathcore is concerned. Crown Magnetar are boundlessly heavy, viciously visceral and creative while still managing to crush the living daylights out of the listener—and really, what more could you really want?
For Fans Of: Lorna Shore, AngelMaker, Oceano, Martyr Defiled, A Night in Texas
By: Connor Welsh