Reviewed: July 2019
Released: 25th May, 2019, Church Within Records
Reviewer: James Swandale
German doom metallers Crestfallen Queen return after last year’s demo “No More Let Life Divide What Death Can Join Together” with their debut full length album, “Queen of Swords”. Formed in Stuttgart in 2016, they play a blend of progressive blackened rock, at times leaning toward doom-coated heavy metal.
The album itself is based around ancient philosophy and mythology, with fantastic album art by Peruvian artist Jose Gabriel Alegria Sabogal. The majority of the almost 40 minute album is comprised of four tracks with two smaller ambient pieces, the long song lengths allowing the band to to bask in every doomy, fuzzy note.
After the introduction of “Umbra”, we start the album proper with “Queen of Swords”. Production on the album sounds great and we begin with a nice bellowing acoustic riff before the fuzz is cranked up. As the song moves on the track tacks toward the aforementioned doom-coated heavy metal, while the vocals descend from a heavy metal sound to screams and growls all backed up with weaving guitars before moving towards a traditional doom vibe, but with layered progressive guitar work over the top. The song changes foundations throughout giving space to each riff without overstaying its welcome.
“Eurydice’s Lullaby” opens with similarly a minimal intro, this time trading the guitar for synthy strings before launching in to some delicious overlaid guitar. The pace of this song is noticeably slower but maintains the practice of changing itself up before things get too slow, and the track gradually builds and toward the end vocalist E delivers some fantastic screaming to bring the song to a close.
After the brief interlude of “Invocation” we return to the major songs with “Ghost Warriors”. Immediately a sense of momentum greets us as the repeated riff is built upon by lashings of drums, guitar and wailing vocals before nosediving into doom riffage. Probably one of the more simplistically structured tracks on the album, maintaining a similar base and pace for the majority of its length, it nonetheless delivers, especially toward the final few minutes when E busts out the incredible screamed vocals again. The final two minutes of the track are almost an interlude in itself as a total change of dynamic closes us out however it could be seen as more like a final movement, that brings a close to the storyline of the song.
The final track on the album, “Lethean Bed” leads the way with a slow, plodding sense of foreboding and maintains it for the duration. This is Crestfallen Queen at their most classically doom and trails away toward close out the album with some soft synth notes.
Across the album, despite each of the main tracks being almost 10 minutes in length, no song ever becomes boring, the pace they move is slow, but it is moving. The structure really gives almost the perfect amount of time to let you enjoy the guitars and let them breathe. This is a really fantastic debut album and should be great fun in a live setting too.