This Ending- Crowned In Blood (Album Review)

June 5, 2024


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They may only be a few years away from their twentieth anniversary, but the roots of Swedish melodic death metal band This Ending go back quite a bit further than that.  Most of the group’s original lineup had been a part of A Canorous Quintet in the 90s, who released some underrated material around the same time as the genre’s heavy hitters.  When that act disbanded they came together as The Plague before quickly pivoting over to This Ending and put out two albums between 2007 and 2009 that added a slight industrial edge to their melodic death metal sound.  I personally found those efforts to be decent but not quite at the level of what had come before, but always kept a look out for the band’s name to come across my desk.  In the years since then there have been three more full lengths and a re-recording of A Canorous Quintet’s 1998 album The Only Pure Hate, which seems to have rubbed off on This Ending.  Both 2021’s Needles of Rust and this year’s Crowned In Blood showcased even more atmosphere and slower, brooding passages that had a haunting quality to them, with the latter expanding upon this even further. 

That may be a bit of a long-winded intro compared to some reviews, but it feels necessary considering how intrinsically linked This Ending and A Canorous Quintet have been.  Where 2007’s Inside The Machine not only lived up to its name but also felt like a product of its time with an emphasis on machinelike rhythms and brutal grooves with hints of melody, Crowned In Blood holistically encompasses the band has been hinting at for the past two decades.  The opening title track demonstrates this perfectly, as it spends its first minute or so building up a dark and tense atmosphere before exploding into a fast-paced flurry of powerful guitar leads and pummeling drum work.  There’s definitely a sense of familiarity to the riffs, but the longer length of this opener allows for some slower passages and soaring solos that shake up the formula early on.  At the core of Crowned In Blood are the type of leads that feel like they’re sending you off into battle, and songs like “Birth of Evil”, “Will of Iron”, and “A Venomous Prison” feature some of my favorite riffs the band has written to date.  But there’s also a bit more variety this time around as well, as “Hope in Inferno” utilizes acoustic guitar and slower build-ups in an almost doom like fashion while a few of the other passages tread the line between old-school Swedish death metal and melodic death metal.  This Ending’s albums have always had a razor-sharp production, often emphasizing the low-end, but Crowned In Blood finds a better balance between the melody and brutality which makes for even bigger peaks than before.  Admittedly there are still a handful of moments that blurred together over repeat listens and the almost seven and a half minute “Lord, Master, King and Emperor - All in One” felt like it lasted for longer than necessary, but there’s still plenty here to keep listeners coming back for more.

Mårten Hansen has been a constant behind the mic for both A Canorous Quintet and This Ending, so if you’ve heard albums from either discography you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Crowned In Blood.  This isn’t meant as a negative though, as even after thirty-three years Hansen still sounds just as aggressive and powerful as listeners could possibly want.  The core pitch is on the raspier side, hitting some slightly different ranges than the average melodic death metal band, and there are plenty of backing pitches that help to shake things up.  Guitarist Linus Nirbrant contributes some of these, and on songs like “Will of Iron” you’ll hear his cleaner sung/yelled pitch behind the extremely distorted raspy and violent screaming.  This type of diversity continues to work to This Ending’s advantage, especially when a lot of melodic death metal falls into one-note repetitive performances.  For Crowned In Blood the group also brought in some guests, with Necrophobic’s Anders Strokirk appearing on the title track along with narration from former band member Leo Pignon.  “Lord, Master, King and Emperor - All in One” also brings along Joakim Svensson (Birdflesh, Skogen) for the ride, and I appreciate that these guest sections leave an impression but don’t overshadow the core band either.

Early on This Ending was one of those bands where I enjoyed certain songs but struggled to get through entire albums.  In recent years they’ve really gotten consistent from beginning to end though, and Crowned In Blood expands naturally upon the solid foundation that Needles Rust established a few years earlier.  There are still a few sections that are hard to tell apart and I’m not fully sold on a seven-minute track from this group, but this is still a really strong effort from a group that deserves much more notoriety in the melodic death metal space.  If you’ve been bored with recent albums from Amon Amarth and some of the others out there but are still looking for that early Swedish sound done well, This Ending fits the bill perfectly.  Crowned In Blood is available from Apostasy Records.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg