Godflesh used to finish their albums with a song that announced the direction they were going to take on their next one. In this regard, C R O W N are no different to the famous duo from Birmingham as the music on Natron follows the template they left their listener with on Alpha Omega on Psychurgy.
Although C R O W N was already an impressive live band as a trio built around a drum machine, their debut album was too long for its own sake and put heaviness above emotional depth. With Natron they finally embrace melodies to give more breathing room to the heaviness. Consequently, every time the guitar and drum machine come back, they hit the listener that much harder instead of numbing him. The song are also much more memorable.
The heavy/quiet technique is nothing to write home about as its been used to death, and made infamous by nu metal acts since Korn, but it does not mean it’s not effective anymore. With Natron, C R O W N uses the more atmospheric moments to build some momentum and bring the attention of the listener closer before striking hard with a heavy beat coupled with some down tuned guitars. The vocals are also much more involved with a duo of voice very much influenced by Neurosis’ Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till.
When they become quiet, the band’s beat and atmosphere recalls Dominick Fernow‘s (Prurient, Ash Pool) industrial techno alter ego in Vatican Shadow (The word you speak are not your own). However, when the guitar kick back in full overdrive, C R O W N sounds like a more mechanical Meshuggah, devoted to simpler tempos but to the same dark and oppressive guitar tone.
Among the big change on this album is also the inclusion of blast beats and black metal riffs. Tremolos are uncommon in doom, to say the least, but joined with the more oppressive and percussive parts they offer a superior dose of aggression that would have been lost with the numerous ambient parts. They even delve a bit into post punk with the Joy Division/The Cure inspired Fossils that allows them to move away from metal and spread their melodic wings a bit further.
Now coupled with a much more evocative, and appropriate, cover than the lifeless cover of their first album, C R O W N has developed it’s sound writing to create more memorable songs and a more coherent album. Cutting back on the length of the album was also a good idea as Psychurgy attacked with a repetitive and numbing full frontal assault. Natron is a very coherent disc that proves C R O W N‘s determination to evolve as a band and as song writers. The band now exist in between Godflesh and Neurosis while strenghtening its bond with Blut Aus Nord‘s universe. An interesting and evocative combination of influences that promise some excellent live shows and an even better third album.