Album Review: Northern Crown – In a Pallid Shadow

Album Review: Northern Crown - In a Pallid Shadow

Album Review: Northern Crown - In a Pallid Shadow
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

As the opening strains of lead track ‘Leprosarium’ hammers home, the uninitiated would be forgiven for placing Northern Crown firmly in the epicentre of the Scandinavian doom sound, alongside the legends of Candlemass, Sorcerer and the like. Formed in 2013, Northern Crown actually hail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida but their sound is more suited to snow and ice rather than the sunshine state. ‘In A Pallid Shadow’, the band’s third long player is an adventure from the beginning, accurately described as “an epic struggle between good and evil, a terrifying personal dilemma, a brief moment of unexpected beauty and a few good stories”.

Album Review: Northern Crown - In a Pallid Shadow

There are elements of rock n’ roll, heavy metal and huge slabs of doom bound in this 38-minute release. Utilising thick swathes of keyboards and synths, alongside massively heavy riffs, the five-tracks are all powerful statements that blend neatly but also stand strong individually. Singer Frank Serafine has a distinctive classic vocal delivery, a mixture of dynamic and grit. The thunderous bass lines of Leona Hayward are assertive throughout and she links tightly with groove-heavy drummer Dan Konopka of OK GO. A buried reference to John Coltrane’s Giant Steps in the opener segues into the magical ‘The Last Snowfall’, a dramatic and explosive piece which showcases guitarist Zach Randall’s signature writing.

‘A Vivid Monochrome’ sees Northern Crown manage the emotion and temperature, a slower, brooding song that slowly increases in tempo, lush keys add depth, Serafine taking centre stage with a commanding delivery before the track breaks with a soulful guitar solo, the instruments combining in a glorious crescendo. The band slip into epic mode on ‘8 Hours’, the longest track on the album, with elements of Blind Guardian adding to the drama, whilst an 80s synth sound is underpinned by thick bass and soaring guitar distortion on the concluding song ‘Observing’. This once more brings an imperious, confident style, majestic and imposing.

With Travis Smith adding to the mix with some evocative artwork and mastering from the legendary Dan Swanö (Unisound Studio/SE.) and contributions from soloist Evan Hensley (Nightfall/Dark Hound/Karmic Link) Northern Crown have made a stake for one of the most impressive albums of the year. A huge sound, thick melodies and a confident delivery make ‘In A Pallid Shadow’ an album that is well worth checking out.

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