Crowned in Earth - Visions of the Haunted
Shadow Kingdom Records
5 songs (35:14)
Release year: 2010
Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewed by Steve
Surprise of the month

A bouncy, groovy, upbeat stoner riff jumps right out to get the first part of opening track The Sun Never Stays going, but the tempo slows down quickly, the organ comes in, and we are plunged into a dark dirge. Tempo changes like this continue at various but fairly frequent intervals throughout the track and connote a signature mechanism of Crowned in Earth’s debut record – abrupt, radical shifts in pace and instrumentation which grab the mood of the music by its collar and yank it along with them.

Crowned in Earth is comprised of Kevin Lawry (Silent Winter, Khthon) and Darin Mcloskey (Pale Divine, Falcon, Sinister Realm). Mcloskey drums and Lawry does everything else. Silent Winter is a one-man death/doom band and Lawry mans the kit there. He does a credible if less-than-spectacular job on that band’s last record, The Allure, but apparently he knows his limitations and made the humbling if smart decision of recruiting Mcloskey for this new project. If you don’t know Sinister Realm, buddy, you need to go school yourself ASAP. Suffice to say, their debut album (eponymous), released last year, is some serious headbanging fare. It was one of the first albums that went back onto my iPod after the Great iPod Crash of 2010, an event whose impacts were seriously underestimated upon occurrence but which has shown itself to be truly devastating in its aftermath. See, I was loading some stuff on my iPod and it went into this boot screen / death loop thing and I had to wipe it to get it to work again. At first, I thought “well, this will give me a chance to see what I really care about. I’ll just put only the stuff I miss back on it.” The thing is, it wasn’t a just a random bunch of shit on there, man. I had seriously curated that motherfucker – an 80 giger, no less. I was about halfway through the process of listening to every single record on it and deleting the stuff I didn’t care for. I mean, it was a metal reference device! There was so much stuff on there I would just flip to for a minute to see if someone was bullshitting in a review or stuff that I didn’t get at first – Meshuggah is a good example of that. I tried and tried to get into them and finally did, but the point is the band was at my fingertips whenever I was ready to give them another go. So, yeah, that sucked, and no, you really don’t give a damn, but like fifteen people will probably read this, and I’ve been wanting to get if off my chest. Where was I? Oh, right Sinister Realm is badass and Kevin Lawry definitely did himself a favor by getting their drummer to lay it down on Visions of the Haunted. It might be tempting to blow off doom drumming as being simple and therefore easy, but putting the pieces of a successful composition together is something that should always be respected and Darin Mcloskey does a great job.

Lawry said in an interview he actually recorded all the vocals for this record once and wasn’t happy so he destroyed them and did the whole thing again. That’s some serious dedication to the art right there, and I would say he made another good call. He’s got a great voice for doom and doesn’t overuse it. He’s got that off-in-the-distance thing going à la Gates of Slumber. His voice is not the only thing he’s got going for himself, however, as he works the old axe over pretty good too. Witness the excellent riffing on The Voice That Controls or the killer solo on Downward Spiral.

Visions of the Haunted actually has a classic rock sort of sensibility in a lot of places. That sound goes well with the classic doom sound that makes up the majority of the record. The organ is only present here and there to set a spooky scene – as in the beginning of album closer Awaken. It’s actually a keyboard, by the way, and was recorded along with everything but the drums in Lawry’s house. Awaken is a down-tempo track until the last minute or two. It’s a fitting end to an album that does a great job of being original while displaying all the great traits of orthodox doom.

I can’t quite go apeshit over Visions of the Haunted, but it’s a record I’ll come back to long after this review is posted. If you’re a fan of the genre at all, you shouldn’t miss it.

Killing Songs :
Downward Spiral
Steve quoted 81 / 100
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