Another exploration is launched with Northern Crown’s third full-length album, In A Pallid Shadow.
The band is a little bit hard to pin down if you are looking to label them in a category. I have most often seen them called a doom metal act, but that isn’t quite right. Elements are there, it is true, but that is not their overarching vibe, at least not to me. Prog, too, I’ve seen quite a bit. That category is broad enough to encompass a wide array of bands, but I wouldn’t call Northern Crown prog, either. A hybrid band, then, a crossover, or maybe just a category all their own. One thing is certain: every album sounds different.
The credits listed in the press materials make no reference to anyone playing keyboards, but they are a prominent feature of the music, literally in every song. Maybe it is more mysterious that way. The album begins with “Leprosarium,” which has a very grungy sound to it. I kept expecting Eddie Vedder to jump off a balcony. That’s it for the grunge, though, because in the next song, “The Last Snowfall,” the music turns to campfire storytelling with the non-vocal instruments playing supporting roles. That is true in the first half. Past the midpoint, the music fills in the story and the playful lead break has something to say as well.
A solo piano line opens “A Vivid Monochrome.” Appropriate. Slow and quiet in the first half of the song, electrified strings muscle some of the placidity out in their roll toward the end. “8 Hours” has a quiet beginning too but it is a tease. Heavy riffs and dramatic vocals insist the song in a theatrical direction. The closer, “Observing,” pops on like a heavy metal Kansas song with Point of Know Return keyboards and guitars. Not for long – the rest of the song has more in common with a Dio anthem than with the 1970s pre-prog masters. There is much to appreciate in this new album, and it comes at you from many different angles.
Available on July 3, make it a point to catch up with Northern Crown and see where they are on their journey.