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It’s been a while since we’ve had a good Australian straight-up hardcore record. Well, at least until Free World or Outright give us some new material to work with (come on, Free World, hurry that shit up, a man can only wait so long!). So, with a slight absence of full-length’s at the moment, looks like Melbourne’s Crowned Kings will step up. With their sophomore album, the quintet have offered up a far more memorable, better written and far tighter tribute to the almighty and omnipresent hardcore gods in the form ‘Forked Tongue‘.
Working with Terror drummer, Nick Jett in L.A. for the new effort it’s no wonder why this record sounds like a Terror and Madball tribute band. You know, as in having a really, really strong NYHC sound, which has actually aged really well. In a nutshell, the single gruff yell, the thrash-inspired chugging riffs and three/four chord progressions, the pummelling and groovy rhythm section, among others show off all of the trademarks of this brand of metallic hardcore that can be found on ‘Forked Tongue‘. However, it’s all done well, and there’s a sense of energy and conviction here (check out ‘Judged‘ and the title track), which isn’t always easy to convey through music that doesn’t represent a live show: i.e. recorded music.
Of course the big issue is that from the start of ‘Aim For The Top‘ right up until the final seconds of ‘Sold My Soul‘ this album doesn’t ever deviate from the long-walked and well established path. It’s a bit of a paradox really – you deviate, you’re not hardcore. You remain on track, and you’re hardcore just without any variety. It’s a similar issue that the new Thy Art Is Murder album had, which just held it back from being a masterpiece.
There’s plenty of head-banging moments and plenty of moments that feel like a mix of Terror breakdowns (the breakdown towards the end of ‘Deadbeat‘ is indeed the sickest) and Slayer riffs, although that’s the case with A LOT of other hardcore/metal bands these days, but hey, this reviewer ain’t complaining. Along with the musical template of hardcore being followed to the T, the mix and balance of the album has also been given the straight-up treatment, albeit far tighter than most other hardcore releases this year.
Looking down the track listing for ‘Forked Road’, one can easily gauge how these songs will sound and what the lyrics will be about. But that isn’t quite such a huge criticism, as the lack of variety in the songs is. But it’s hardcore; it does what hardcore does and will continue to do for the rest of eternity. Crowned Kings keep it groovy and heavy, and while it’s nothing new, this is still one of the better straight up hardcore albums of 2015.
1. Aim For The Top
2. Rage Inside
3. Ego Trip
4. Forked Road
6. Rule This World
9. Slave To The Cash
10. The Reaper
11. Never Give Up
12. Sold My Soul