I don’t know about you, but for me great new bands often seem to appear as if by magic when you least expect them too. Sometimes it’s a late night trawl through a few inter-related YouTube videos, sometimes it’s at a gig you arrive at early enough to catch the unknown local supports or sometimes it’s in a mate’s car on a Friday night. In the case of Venice, Italy’s classic doom metallers Kröwnn, I got wind of their badass riffery and sorcery through a combination of a recommendation from a work colleague and a back edition of one of Bob Anglum’s sublime The Soggy Bog podcasts. Who knows, maybe I’m just a little late to the party but their almost NWOBHM guitar edge and pummelling rhythm section kicked me for six and I immediately sought out a copy of both the brand new Magmafröst and 2013’s criminally under-the-radar demo Hyborian Age to fulfil my hunger for this three piece’s powerful, strident thunder.
Having been around for just two years, Kröwnn have both established a firm foothold in the stoner-metal template for themselves and have successfully refined their sound from the raw and raucous riff-a-minute approach of Hyborian Age to arrive at the polished powerhouse that is Magmafröst. Lead confidently by Michele el Lello Carnielli on lead vocals and guitar and backed with slick venom by all-female rhythm partnership Silvia Selvaggia Rossato (bass) and Elena Fiorenzano (drums), the band comfortably wear their doom influences on their sleeves whilst Michele crafts dark fantasy lyrics based on the novels of Howard, Moorcock and Martin, amongst others.
Whereas Hyborian Age took the power chord-centric heavy metal approach to stoner rock in a mid-tempo, driving plod as the likes of The Sword and Saviours have achieved in recent times, Magmafröst carries a darker, more labyrinth-like approach for the most part. Yet it still doesn’t skimp on the party-hard boogie doom that Kröwnn have made their nest in. Bookended by the mysterious and ethereal intro and outro of Bennu and Cernunnos, it doesn’t take Michele long to put on his best riffing boots for a night out on the stomp around Riff City. Skeksis Dance kicks off with a swaying galleon of a riff like something off a Pentagram or Vitus record before settling into an almighty chug. Swapping the straight-up Pete Steele-esque baritone vocals that featured throughout Hyborian Age for a distorted, authoritative wail, the frontman is in full command of the ship as it mounts waves and typhoons of solid iron. Silvia’s bass has a bitchin’ tone throughout the album as she locks into Elena’s drum thumping and cowbell-slapping which slowly ramps up the velocity to Sleep territories whilst Michele growls like a demented lion in the foreground.
Wyvernking is another slow-starter, building around a coiled chugger of a riff as Elena’s drums collapse through the floor under the strain of their own weighty swagger. Michele’s wail is both haunting and gutsy at the same time as this eight-minute beast quakes into life. There’s some half-soloing towards the track’s conclusion, which whilst not super-technical, give us a rest from the relentless barrage of riffery as Michele harmonises his vocal distortion through similar sounding channels to a creative effect.
Wölhunt and Sleipnir are both groovy little bastards in the vein of Church of Misery or The Ethereal Mirror-era Cathedral which bring the boogie as much as they bring the terror of their battle-crying lyrics. These two tracks are closer to the Hyborian Age style of the band’s material, but the production quality is full and pure, giving the songs far more dimensions than a simple three piece doom band should be capable of on paper. Think heavy. Think Acid King with a dash of Candlemass heavy.
To Minas Morgul is a strident belter of a tune, seven minutes long and yet full of fire and blood from front to back. Segueing in and out of full scale metal territories as well as Sabbath/Vitus/Count Raven darkness, I’m reminded of High On Fire with this number in both style and quality of Kröwnn’s blistering attack. Similarly, titanic closer Forge Of Crom sounds like a genre classic, with its hulking mass of tangled, yet cleanly-struck riffery and Elena’s glorious fills bridging the gap between Neanderthalic butchery and the murky voids of the human mind.
If you like your doom metal with extra emphasis on the “metal”, then Kröwnn could be your new favourite underground band. Some will say that big riffs accompanied by lyrics about sorcery and fantasy literature have been done to death, but when they’re done with the conviction of Magmafröst then I say who gives a fuck when you’re banging your head right off your shoulders. Hail Crom, hail Italy’s mighty Kröwnn.
Magmafröst is available to buy now on Digital Download from Kröwnn’s Bandcamp page.
Scribed by: Pete Green