Local deathcore band Crown Magnetar has been on the scene for around three years now, playing many a show with touring acts and locals alike. On January 2, they released their debut EP, The Prophet of Disgust, and in celebration, they'll be playing a release show at the Black Sheep on Thursday, Jan. 25.
Thing is, deathcore exists in a peculiar spot in the gamut of way-too-specific metal sub-genres and sub-sub-genres. To oversimplify, the metal press/blogosphere doesn't give the genre a lot of love, yet genre stalwarts like Suicide Silence, Chelsea Grin and Fit For an Autopsy sell albums and fill seats — hell, Suicide Silence's 2014 album, You Can't Stop Me, hit #16 on the Billboard top 200 chart that year. Often, deathcore prioritizes moshpit fuel in the form of breakdowns and chug riffs over writing unique, cohesive songs. Y'know, as opposed to every other metal sub-sub-genre that prioritizes adherence to genre tropes over songwriting.
Track 1: "The Eyes of Discontent"
The band chose this as their lead single and even got a music video made. The longest song on the album, it feels like I get a new riff every 20 seconds, from blisteringly fast to ultra-slow and br00tal for a breakdown. There are some cool harmonies, and on some of the chugs, they've got a noise gate effect that makes the guitar and bass sound very sterile and digital — according to guitarist Nick Burnett, it's an Axe FX plugin. There's a lot going on in this song, and the band's technical chops are undeniable. Props for the creepy melodic and atmospheric touches, too. Vocalist Dan Tucker's low death-growls and higher-pitched rasp sound wholly functional, conforming to expectations. But some of those rapid transitions feel choppy, and the song doesn't feel super cohesive.
Track 2: "Immolation"
"Immolation" starts out heavy, fast and slamming, with more of that gated chug. Faster passages get little guitar flourishes here and there, which is cool. It’s mercilessly intense but feels pretty cohesive as a single piece of music. The song proper gives way to a functional ambient interlude after going hard for 2:20. Unfortunately, the drum lead-in for track 3 comes at the end of this song instead of the start of the next one. Damned if this isn't a solid track, though.
Track 3: "Detestable Impurity"
Right off, track 3 is a wall of swirling guitar chugs, bringing in more higher-register atmospheric notes over the breakdown, which then shifts into a BIGGER, SLOWER, HEAVIER breakdown. Expect a few cool, irregular timings here and there. Expect also near-constant jumping from riff to riff and tempo to tempo. The end of the song features repeated jumps between palm-muted percussive chugs and high-speed technical leads.
Track 4: "Mountain of Flesh"
Right at the beginning, there's a thrashy guitar intro that keeps popping up throughout the song's 2:32, but it doesn't stick around long enough to hook me in. The breakdown's fine. Their use of melodic guitar parts as atmosphere serve them well. The periodic chugs in outro section feel a little aimless, then the band comes together to conclude. The technical skill here, again, is undeniable, but it's not the most cohesive song on the album.
Track 5: "Execrator"
Fast, chuggy right off. Getting some good change-ups from the drummer, and there's a palpable groove. I’m between this and "Immolation" for album favorites. I’m not getting lost in the change-ups. My most favorable comparison, and these little sections have been coming up all album long, is to the last two Cattle Decapitation albums. This track’s actually pretty fun, all told, especially the tremolo riff starting around 1:30. The band sounds tight throughout this track — it’s less show-offy, and that’s very much to their benefit in terms of cohesion.
Track 6: "Fetus in Fetu"
The album closer starts in a chuggy breakdown. That sample on top of the intro is nice, and the guitar leads here stand out when they happen. There's a brutal breakdown out of nowhere, about 15 seconds before a speedup. I feel like the rhythm section holds this song's constant transitions together better than on other songs on the album, excepting a disorienting beat change around 2:20. A brief ambient break precedes an outro that's all beatdown.
It's easy to mosh to Crown Magnetar's debut effort, and the musicianship is definitely there. The riffs are good, but I didn't find any to be particularly hooky or stand-out. That said, there are cool moments to spare, and to produce something this technically tight as a debut EP is a testament to the band's pure ability to perform. Check them out at their album release party, The moshpit is sure to be choice.