REVIEW: Crown Magnetar – Alone in Death [EP/2022]

Artist: Crown Magnetar
Album: Alone in Death – EP

Some people fear clowns. Some people fear heights. Some people fear crowded rooms, empty rooms, small rooms, large rooms. Some people fear life, and a lot of people fear death—but what most people fear, likely more than anything, is dying alone. I’m guilty of it; you probably are too. Humans have evolved to seek companionship at nearly the same intensity with which they desire food, water and shelter, so it only makes sense that dying alone—sharing an intensely fearsome and intimate process with…well, no one, is crippling. Other things that are crippling? The adequately named, aptly bleak and absolutely oppressive EP Alone in Death by resident masters of the chug, Crown Magnetar. While they may not yet be a household name, they have readily established that they’re more than adept at melding malevolent breakdown and technically impervious percussion to form a colossal archetype of contemporary heavy music. Coming from a state of relative innocuousness as recently as 2020 to now being a rapidly rising star throughout the jam-packed deathcore scene, Crown Magnetar continue their ascent with Alone in Death—six tracks of immolating, immense and intricate deathcore that leaves the listener flatter than a pancake.

Instrumentally, Crown Magnetar toe the line dividing technical deathcore and good-ol-fashioned gut-busting deathcore with expertise and punctuality. From the opening seconds of the record’s eponymous track, this crushing quartet absolutely refuses to give the listener any breathing room between roaring percussion and absolutely crushing fretwork. “Hellsphere” is another excellent lesson in oppressive instrumentation: here, machine-gun blast beats blow holes in the listener while dissonant guitar and bass work together to bludgeon the listener senseless. Other songs, like “The Pain of Existence” see the band working more towards their technical proclivities as seen on their previous full length, The Codex of Flesh. Here, the leads are razor sharp, cutting through layers of splashy cymbals and grisly bass, straight to the listener’s temporal lobe. Crown Magnetar demonstrate what what appears to be great ease that they’re capable of crafting technically dense, riff-heavy tracks that still feature barbaric, primal aggression. The band’s drums are easily able to toggle between mind-melting speed and simple, sinister patters, just as the fretwork runs an entire gamut between tremolo-and-sweep-picked deviance and ignorant heaviness. When it comes to crafting heavy music—especially deathcore—there really isn’t anything the instrumental maniacs in Crown Magnetar can’t do.

If you thought the band’s instrumental approach was comprehensive, then you’ll pleased to find that their vocal effort is just as much so. Now splitting vocal duties between Crown Magnetar and And Hell Followed With, the natural assumption would be that Dan Tucker might be spreading himself a little too thin, fronting two colossal bands at one time. Luckily, Tucker seems to be a figurative fountain of putrescent-yet-prodigal vocal talent. There is no low left unbellowed, no high left unsquealed or screeched. Throughout Alone in Death, Tucker is accompanied by several guests of marked notoriety (Jamie Hanks chief among them), and while their addition is welcome, they are in no way needed—which is to say that Tucker is more than adept at capturing all the ranges and styles needed to keep the listener thoroughly engrossed without any assistance. Alone in Death is a vocal powerhouse, plain and simple, with each song featuring an onslaught of screams, shouts and squeals that match the instrumental intensity and maelstrom of musical misanthropy perfectly.

It should come as no surprise that Alone in Death is one of my favorite slabs of deathcore meat that 2022 has offered thus far: with The Codex of Flesh as my favorite deathcore full length of 2021 and Crown Magnetar essentially pitching the EP as “all the heaviest parts of Codex turned up to 11,” I was bound to love it. Crown Magnetar took those lofty expectations and exceeded them with ease, as Alone in Death is one of the most ignorantly aggressive and downright abysmally heavy deathcore albums I’ve heard since Oceano’s debut, Depths. Combining touches of technicality and intricacy into a melting pot of murderously heavy metal-tinted deathcore, Alone in Death is an expert-level release that continues the band’s growing legacy of mastery over their craft.

For Fans Of: Oceano, Tactosa, Lorna Shore, Bodysnatcher, Chelsea Grin
By: Connor Welsh