Stygian Crown
Stygian Crown

What happens when you get members of Gravehill together, throw in some female vocals, keyboards and the drummer from past bands like Morgion and Crimson Relic?  Well you get a doom metal outfit called Stygian Crown releasing their self-titled debut album….and it’s heavy.

This is a 2020 release and yes I know it’s 2021, but here is my explanation for the review.  I preface this by saying drummer, Rhett Davis’ now defunct Morgion put out 2 of the very best doom/death metal albums in existence, which I cherish – 1997’s Among Majestic Ruin and the follow-up Solinari.  Rhett asked me in 2020 if I had his brand new band’s Stygian Crown’s release and I said I did not.  As an extreme gesture of kindness he actually sent me a copy.  The issue is the damned Covid-19 and delays in delivery, caused me to just receive the cd, in 2021.  That is the reason for this late review and because the album is so damn good it needs a review.  I had been in touch with Rhett for sometime and when I came back to Internal Bleeding in 2018, to do the Bloodletting Tour, I finally got a chance to meet him in California and it was awesome to finally meet someone who I deeply respect in the scene and as an individual.  Hell, I was already a huge fan of Gravehill and the above mentioned bands, so yeah, I was a little blown away meeting him – such a great dude.

I admit to being more into doom/death metal, because of the death metal aspect, rather than straight up doom metal, however the first 4 Candlemass albums are straight up doom metal and to me are the best doom metal albums ever crafted.  So take some of those classic Candlemass moments, mix in some very early Fates Warning and some of that steam-rolling mid-paced heaviness of Bolt Thrower/Hail of Bullets and booyah, Stygian Crown.  Now that’s not to say the band is not without its own originality, because they certainly are and as you know with doom metal comes very long songs – so 8 songs in 51 minutes-it’s long, but so much going on.  “Devour the Dead” has some outstanding rumbling heaviness and vocalist/synthesizers – Melissa Pinion has quite a set of pipes on her.  Her vocal range is extraordinary and I appreciate her style quite a lot.  The guitar riffing from Nelson Miranda and Andy Hicks is excellent with a bunch of riffing rooted in classic metal and Jason Thomas adding in the bass guitar to add some density to the rhythm section.  Rhett keeps the beat tight and rolling drum and cymbal hits ensure your chest cavity will collapse once or twice.

“Up from the Depths” about mid-way through the song has that Bolt Thrower style of guitar heaviness and then out of the blue a guitar solo comes whipping by.  Some very nice aria style-vocals come on in and around the 5.45 moment really calls to mind the Ancient Dreams album, by Candlemass with Melissa getting the range as Messiah Marcolin once did.  This part until the end of the song, is dare I say beautiful!

“Two Coins for the Ferryman” is not at all a song from New Foundland’ s Great Big Sea, although the title of this song certainly has you thinking some folk sea shanty tune.  The lyrics actually call to mind some folk tales and the variety of sounds and vocal patterns create an epic atmosphere. Terrific classic metal guitar soloing that goes on for a bit, followed by emotive melodies and more reach for the sky type of vocals and equipped with a monumental and orchestral crescendo of an ending!

Stygian Crown’s self-titled debut album is an awesome display of classic doom metal, with many other styles and originality thrown in.  It’s heavy, emotive, well-written and most of all well played.  Excellent production and cd booklet/tray layout.  This album brings me back to 1985/1986 in many ways when metal was a bit more classic, longer and thoughtfully written out.  Some of the plodding and depressive heavy moments could create despair within your rotting soul.  When I listen to doom metal, that is what I want!!  Hot damn this is great.  Rhett – many thanks for sending this to me and you all doom and classic metal freaks get your hands on this album now!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
January 22nd, 2021

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