What the heck is going on in Sweden? Something with the water? A strange variant of the pandemic? A weird batch of lutefisk? None of the above—or all the above?
I ask because there seems to be an explosion of melodic rock coming from that Scandinavian country. No, I’m not going back to ABBA. But take in groups like Eclipse, The Night Flight Orchestra, Ghost, Europe and more. These folks offer enough hooks to catch fish for the next millennium.
And now we can add another band to the mix: CROWNE. This super-group (boy, I hate that term which is overused and under-accurate and tends to mean very little in the scheme of things) has tossed its hat in the ring with “Kings in the North.” And in this case, the group is super and so is the album.
If you’re familiar with Swedish rock, you may know these names (I’m a bit ignorant, admittedly). Vocalist Alexander Strandell fronts Art Nation. Jona Tee is guitarist and keyboardist for a number of groups. Christian Lundqvist handles the kit for The Poodles. And John Leven plays bass for Europe, probably the most recognized band to those outside Sweden. To top it off, Dynazty’s axe man Love Magnusson handles guitar solos and leads. Due to the nature of the music and the band, Magnusson and Strandell stand out—but the others provide top musicianship and coalesce into a formidable unit.
And if you’re not familiar with Swedish rock, you’re in for a treat. Nothing is longer than 4 ½ minutes. It’s punchy. To the point. No wasted space or notes. A true wall of sound that knocks your socks off. And did I mention hooks? So many hooks. You’ll hum along, tap your feet and engage in other physicalities while taking in CROWNE. It washes over you and fills you up, all at the same time
In sound and lyrics, CROWNE is a bit angsty. There is a pain, a desire to overcome the difficulties of today to find a brighter tomorrow. Melodic metal does that well, for the most part, because the hooks touch a place, deep inside where hell and hope merge. Nowhere is that done better than on “Unbreakable,” which starts with a light glockenspiel sound before the guitars jump in. Then Strandell jumps in with the “I double dare you to knock this off my shoulder” lyric:
We’re forever more unbreakable.
Don’t define no one.
No more slowing down.
We’ll claim the crown.
We don’t care no more.
Did I mention the hooks? This one has cascading hooks. And to my ears, the whole thing just begs to be a single (but I’ve been wrong before).
Frankly, all the songs on “Kings in the North” could be singles—they are that catchy, that compact, that appealing. From the opening notes of the title track to the glockenspiel sound that concludes “Save Me From Myself,” there’s no filler, no overt repetition, no boring phrases. There’s just melodic metal. If you’re like me, you’ll listen to the entire album straight through. I just couldn’t pull away from it; I had to know what was coming next. There’s no better compliment to pay a musical endeavor.
I have no idea what’s going on in Sweden, that all of these hooky bands are appearing at the same time. But I like it. A lot. CROWNE’s “Kings in the North reaffirms that.”
But no lutefisk, thanks.
Released By: Frontiers Music SRL
Released On: June 25th, 2021
Genre: Melodic Rock
- Alexander Strandell / Vocals
- Jona Tee / Guitar, keyboard
- John Levén / Bass
- Christian Lundqvist / Drums
- Love Magnusson / Guitar
“Kings In The North” track listing:
- Kings In The North
- Mad World
- One In A Million
- Sum Of All Fears
- Set Me Free
- Make A Stand
- Cross To Bear
- Save Me From Myself
The Swedish super-group takes the sum of its parts and comes up with a melodic-metal classic, full of bombast and hooks and power. This is music that grabs you by the emotions and moves you to sing along—on your feet, with fists pumping along.