Album Review: Maggot Crown – Apparition of Faces
Reviewed by Sam Jones
With a name like Maggot Crown, how could I not take notice? It was the artwork that drew me to them initially; I find I can be a little iffy with albums sporting a plain black and white artwork yet Apparition Of Faces sports something much more sinister than your rudimentary record. Formed in 2014 with members from South Carolina and Mississippi, United States, the band is a two piece with Justin Volus on vocals shared by fellow member Jared Moran who also performs guitars, bass and drums; so Maggot Crown is not far away from being a one-man band really. At some point I’ll need to delve into Moran’s catalogue, the number of bands he’s worked with is eye-watering. Their first EP, Unworthy Forms Burn, released in 2015 with another EP, Suffering To The Conquered, seeing the light of day in 2019 yet their debut full length release wouldn’t be known until 2021, with Cryptic Immortal Secure. Another two years gone by, Maggot Crown seek to release their second album, Apparition Of Faces. Looking ahead to Spring, let’s see what Maggot Crown are all about.
I appreciated how Maggot Crown wasted no time in detailing to us the tone this record would assume for the entirety of their performance, right at the start. When the riffs, production quality and vocals initially come at us, they conjure a soundscape that’s deliciously, addictively dark. It’s the kind of dark reminiscent to staring down an abyss so etched in black one cannot hope to see the bottom. As a result, Apparition Of Faces takes on a morbidly surreal atmosphere where you can’t help yourself but listen to everything the band have planned for you because it is so much more evil than anything you’ve conventionally heard so far this year. Their death metal/Grindcore combination allows us to wallow within the insanity that belies this record yet gives them full reins to let loose when they deem it necessary.
The vocals were a fantastic surprise in the best way possible. While we get a deeply snarling vocal performance from the record’s opening, it becomes quickly apparent we’re going to be darting back and forth between that performance and something that’s greatly reminiscent to Travis Ryan’s own vocal prowess of Cattle Decapitation. It’s that forceful projection that’s still oozing with a musky timbre that truly lends this vocal performance a genuinely eye-opening form of attention. What’s more, the vocals don’t become buried beneath the band’s eye for evil either; the riffs may be fished out at whatever pace the band believe the songwriting requires, but it never overpowers the vocal delivery. Whatever Grindcore element the band infuse their songwriting with is always kept well controlled and under a firm leash; there’s no indication at any time you’ll become lost within a whirlwind of sonic onslaught. The band keep you precisely where they need you to be at every conceivable moment.
Speaking of the Cattle Decapitation influence, the riffs are positively brimming with it. We’ve mentioned prior how the songwriting seesaws between faster and steadier paces owing to the band’s nature, but that mustn’t underplay the sheer riffs themselves. This may not be anything new under the sun but the band certainly throw you throw a score of loops and hoops getting you from start to finish and that’s often throughout a single track; Maggot Crown have thirteen for you to survive. Riffs are wild, riffs are downright inventive at times and definitely stray from the more conventional Fiona’s Grindcore, and even death metal, variation of riff approach at times. There will be segments of this album that are going to seriously take people aback with how ruthless Maggot Crown are prepared to warp and molest the guitar sound. The grimy and raw album tone only amplifies such a feeling as their malicious tendencies only prosper in this mire.
It’s only as you venture deeper in this harrowing album that you realise Apparition Of Faces stops for absolutely no one. Granted, the songwriting does offer numerous points where we may catch our breath and where riffs do become the chunkier, slowed form yet, for a good portion of this album, Maggot Crown’s performance is simply unstoppable. The wall of sound conjured by their onslaught is deafening in places, often insane and endlessly rampant. It’d the equivalent of angering an already agitated bill whilst possessing every intention for it to cause you; such a circumstance would seem preposterous but due ti the inherent songwriting the sequential, rapid fire track running makes every song not only a reinvigoration of their assault but an extremely satisfying experience where you know exactly what you’re getting, and the band understand precisely what you want.
In conclusion, Maggot Crown’s Apparition Of Faces was a sheer joy to experience. This is definitely the kind of savage Grindcore I can get behind not simply due to the speed inherent, but the merciless performance that’s infused into its delivery. Maggot Crown play as if they’re looking to kill you with hardly a reason as to why. If the riffs aren’t bludgeoning you, the drums are unleashing torrents of bass or blast beats or the vocals are summoning demons from the most hellish, abyssal depths imaginable. For thirteen tracks, Maggot Crown throw everything they can muster at us and, seeing as each song is three or fewer minutes long, that intensity is only being renewed again and again. I am thoroughly sold on Maggot Crown as a band and I will fervently keep my eyes open for any upcoming releases they may have for us in the future.