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Crowned By Fire - 'Prone To Destroy' (Digital Media Records) 4/5

I gotta admit I knew naff all about Los Angeles metal merchants Crowned By Fire until this opus arrived in my inbox. Apparently vocalist John Fitterer is one of Californias leading tattoo artists and body piercers, whilst guitarist Justin Manning's regular day job is as roadie, personal assistant and guitar tech to a certain Zak Wylde. Now according to the bumpf that came with this, this album was actually recorded a few years ago during a tour of Italy and has seen a local release in the US, but now has gone world wide thanks to a new deal with the label Digital Media.

Now to be honest as far as metal albums go, this is a good un. It's rooted firmly in the fertile metallic soil of Pantera, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Armored Saint etc; and whilst it isn't that original or ground breaking fans of good old no holds barred traditional metal will find a lot here to satisfy them. Riffs grind and pound relentlessly, solos are whammy bar heavy scream outs, vocals are gruff and dark without resorting to the cliched post core pig grunts.All in all its a great listen.

Highlights include the post sabbath brutality of Get Under The Dirt. the Motorhead influenced Witch In The Window, Shake the Bag which sounds like St Vitus on PCP, As Above So Below which has a hint of Raven about it and the wonderfully titled Vulture With A Rifle - a track that features an intro riff that can only be described as a real killer and reminds me a bit of the legendary Cirith Ungol.

Now I don't for a minute think that this album will make Crowned By Fire international metal superstars, its far too cult and rough around the edges for that. But it will win them a lot of friends on the international metal underground and assure them a damn good stab at cult status in the years to come.

In short - The stuff cults are made of.

For Fans of.. Slayer, Pantera, Cirith Ungol, Motorhead, In Solitude

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