Black metal and shoegaze are two genres that may not seem compatible at face value, but the mix of the two different styles has actually spawned one of the most creative metal movements in the past decade. 'Blackgaze', as it is often called, has seen quite a few excellent new bands over the past few years, and Brisbane's Crowned is one of the more interesting acts to pop up in recent memory. Though they currently have a full-length album in the works, this demo from 2011 is currently the only material available from this Australian trio. Ainulindale is an intense, powerful, and subtly beautiful demo that, in spite of its shortcomings, is an extremely promising effort from Crowned.
Like most bands that mix black metal and shoegaze, a good portion of Crowned's style can be derived from the bleak atmospheres of Burzum. While there are definitely a solid amount of Wolves in the Throne Room-like guitar melodies, the framework for the music is often depressive black metal that portrays feelings of hopelessness and despair. Crowned certainly do not aim to sound like a particularly 'cheery' act, and all of the music on Ainulindale either sounds dark and brooding or melancholic and saddening. And, of course, when it comes to depressive black metal, I wouldn't have it any other way. Crowned plays a style that is almost always fast-paced and furious, yet they still manage to incorporate plenty of subtle melodies and haunting arrangements into their tornadoes of blast beats and tremolo riffage.
Personally, I think Crowned finds the perfect balance between brutality and subtlety on this debut demo, and while I wouldn't label it as the most original thing in the world, Ainulindale is a very promising release. What Crowned may lack in terms of originality and production values is made up for by their talent as composers, and I'd definitely recommend this to fans of depressive black metal. Crowned is a band to keep an eye out for, and I'm very much looking forward to hear what they have to offer on the full-length album format.
1. Ainulindale (10:04)
2. Mouths (7:58)
3. Dusk (11:26)