Reminiscent of early Paradise Lost and Cradle of Filth, Celestial Crown deal in darkly romanticised blackened death metal with a compelling mixture of clean, female vocals and guttural roars and a strong element of Doom thrown into the mix for good measure. Remarkably the album was recorded in the band’s home studio (and includes a dedication to the (presumably) long-suffering neighbours), and yet still boasts a remarkably professional sound with vocals ringing out clearly over a well-balanced instrumental mix. A four piece, the band comprises Denis Volnkin (vocals), Sergei Vlassov (lead & bass guitar, drums, keys & vocals), Aleksandr Shelepenkin (Rhythm and bass guitar, Keys and drums) and Viktoria Seimar (female vocals) and together they make a beautiful, often brutal, noise.
The album opens with the ambitious ‘Chaos reigns over’ which juxtaposes Viktoria’s clean vocals with spoken word passages and harrowing growls, all set against a tightly wound death metal back drop. As the song devolves into madness with looped laughter and pounding double bass, the band dial back the violence and indulge in some tension building with the orchestral opening to ‘consumed by fire’ adopting a subtle, creepy tone. The female vocals are particularly effective here, beautifully delivered without indulging in excess, they add melody and depth to the music without blunting the metallic edge of the music. The band continue to impress as they explore the more romantic edge of their sound with elements of Sisters of Mercy emerging in between the powerhouse riffs. A song with a doomy vibe, ‘Awaken’ has a grinding riff set against an awkward beat, and whilst the keys sweeten the sound they remain subservient to the power of the almighty riff. Opening on an orchestral note, ‘Beyond the horizon’ has a whimsical feel with its plucked strings before a churning, deathly riff marks it out as the heaviest track on the album to date with blistering, raw throated vocals and dark, mid-tempo passages recalling Paradise Lost’s much vaunted ‘gothic’ album. This is also the first track where male clean vocals (as opposed to spoken word) appear, but these are less-well delivered and suffer particularly from comparison with Viktoria’s soaring tones. More clean vocals appear in ‘Collapsed reality’ but this time they’re delivered in sonorous tones that recall My Dying Bride and the impact is much greater than on the previous track. Here the doom/death divide is deftly handled and ‘Collapsed reality’ proves to be an album highlight with its memorable melody and powerful, surging riffs.
Subtle and nuanced with almost a progressive edge, ‘deep blue’ has some stunning lead guitar work set against slow, meditative riffs and restrained vocals, providing the listener with some respite before the piece finally explodes into a deathly glow. Heavier, darker and with that strong doom edge once again recalling My Dying Bride, ‘Reflection in a mirror’ has a dense atmosphere with the gloom occasionally punctuated by Viktoria’s sweet vocal beckoning the listener ever deeper until they emerge into the swirling mystery of the ‘Dark forest’ a haunting epic with harmonised guitars and richly textured vocals always working to build that sense of atmosphere. The album ends with ‘gazing demise’, a dense, synth-infused piece that provides the album with a fitting conclusion. At eight minutes, it is the album’s longest track, but the band use the time effectively to weave their spellbinding web around the listener one last time and it passes in what feels like a fraction of its run time.
From start to finish, ‘rebirth continually impresses. Celestial Crown have obviously poured heart and soul into the making of the album and the wide range of influences makes for a consistently engaging listen. Despite working on the album in a home studio, there’s no impression that this is a budget release and the band should be rightly proud of the dark, powerful sound they have achieved on the record. Of course, good production is as nothing without the songs, but each of the nine cuts on ‘Rebirth’ are beautifully rendered and played and nothing serves to distract the listener form the ebb and flow of the music across the album’s fifty-minute run time. Heavy, atmospheric, and quite often beautiful, ‘Rebirth’ is a stunning record and well worth tracking down. 9
Find out more via the band’s Facebook page.