ALBUM REVIEW: Stygian Crown – Stygian Crown

Stygian Crown’s full-length debut sits comfortably within the Epic Doom Metal niche, but their particular style comes from a more aggressive mindset than many of their peers. This is especially apparent with the guitar work, which exhibits a grainy tone and bulldozing riff patterns that are chunkier than the Classic Metal-derived fare of more conventional outfits. It never goes full-on Death/Doom but the band’s declaration of a Candlemass meets Bolt Thrower sound certainly makes sense when viewed through this lens.

 Thankfully, the theatrics that one expects from the genre are still able to flourish with this blunter approach. Just about every song rides out a slew of dynamics and tempo shifts while the leads and harmonies are thoroughly packed with lofty fanfare. Melissa Pinion’s ominous alto is another point of interest, even if there are times where I’d like to see pushes for higher notes or a little extra layering. But considering how the riffing style could’ve easily lent itself to death grunts, it’s nice to see her delivery fitting the material while offering some additional melodic contrast.

 The songwriting is also rock solid. ‘Flametongue’ is easily the most memorable track as the building choruses and high-speed bridges make for extreme contrasts yet come out equally catchy. ‘Through Divine Rite’ and ‘When Old Gods Die’ also stand out for their bass-heavy murkiness, the latter sliding into a bluesy slant that recalls Witch Mountain. ‘Up From The Depths’ and ‘Two Coins For The Ferryman’ see the band at their most epic, even channeling a bit of Bathory in the backing vocals.

While Stygian Crown’s self-titled debut might’ve been even more impactful with a re-arranged track order, it stands out as a strong slice of Epic Doom. Fans of the genre will find this album well-suited to their tastes while elements like the punchy guitar work suggest the potential for the band to get attention from listeners in heavier circles. It’s not quite at the same level as something like Crypt Sermon, but it’s a worthy effort with signs of something even greater to come.

 8 / 10

CHRIS LATTA