HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

The Crown - Crowned Unholy
(Metal Blade)

Made all the more searing, slicing, exacting but mostly booming by new production plus bass and drum recording, Crowned Unholy is a re-recording of The Crown's Crowned In Terror album, most significantly, with Johan Lindstrand replacing Tomas Lindberg (this was his only Crown album) on vocals. Johan is considered the "true" Crown vocalist now (and now, means, significantly when there is no Crown - they've broken up), and thus is moved way up in the mix in comparison to the drowned vocals on the album's first issue in '02. But hey, it was a great album then, and the production didn't suck at that point, although it is better now, sure to elicit even greater comparisons with The Haunted. Both singers are vocal terrorists, but Lindstrand seems to have more of a slobbering zest for thrash, taking these relentless, manic songs over the top through sheer hair-pulling metal will. Nice packaging too, with al the lyrics, slick two-tone colour work, conversational track by track liner notes from the band, and as bonus, a live DVD, which captures the band live in a crappy and cramped club in Germany, Nov. 24 '03, with adequate (doctored?) sound, multi-camera shot but bootleg-level lighting. Recommended for those with a sick need for speed.
Rating 8

Fu Manchu - Start The Machine

In the three years since their label vanished, Fu Manchu have fumed, releasing a live album and an EP, plotting their next move. The record's here and though the core sound remains, this is a Fu fueled with a head-down rock 'n' roll energy that is unrelentingly fuzzy and always heavy of a sort, but more than a little infused with the spirit of the new garage rock of the plural bands. As well, there's the plain and evident structures of Queens Of The Stone Age - you can tell these songs were written to translate in buzzing beehive live hovels, where intricate parts are often avalanched by the mud. Scott Hill's hair-over-the-eyes Beastie Boy-like vocals help these songs sound youthful and revolt-minded, although the music itself is primary, rudimentary, gleeful, slamming, Foo-lively stoner rock aimed squarely at those who can still consume Herculean amounts of alcohol and function the next day fresh as a daisy.
Rating 7.5

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