22 April 2013
by Tom Gibbons
Last year’s The One EP earned C.R.O.W.N a debut album release with Candlelight Records, and the French duo continue their formula of doomy stoner-droner with Psychurgy. The album acts as an extension of the EP in every aspect – albeit with a more sophisticated final mix that adds extra atmosphere and even more weight to the low-end crushing passages.
C.R.O.W.N’s schtick is slow-down-tuned guitar riffs, eerie synths & samples and unsettling, distant vocals played over a metronomic drum machine. There isn’t much else you can add to this unremarkable description of an unremarkable, seemingly one dimensional track collection, and while Psychurgy sounds like it would be cool to have on in the background while you run around on Skyrim stoned out of your nut, it will perhaps lose an inattentive listener.
To their credit, C.R.O.W.N make excellent use of their synths and samples (hell, there’s even vocoder here, a la Daft Punk), and the vocals sound Neurosis-awesome, but the choice to run a drum-machine set at what sounds like default preset tempos and patterns may divide listeners. One could argue that putting the machine to simple use allows other parts to shine, but C.R.O.W.N.’s guitar riffs and melodies are also overly simple and unoriginal.
This concoction sounds dull, does it not? Perhaps, but the aforementioned slick mix and bucket-load of atmosphere are the album’s salvation, placing it in that grey box of records which are strictly cool in context, which in this instance is as a moody soundtrack to doing something more interesting than listening to the album. Despite it’s shortcomings, the net product is still a good album – the lack of variation and musical depth are trumped by a heavy ambience other bands would kill for.
Sounds like: Neurosis, Godflesh, Cult of Luna
Standout tracks: Abyss, Psychurgy, Serpent and Fire