Review Summary: For the court of the crimson king...
In the court of the Crimson King. It is hard to accurately describe this album. The origins of said progressive are, in its own definition, innovative to say the least, but this is not an ordinary album. An album that, technically, started a genre, is supposed to be ambitious, and is supposed to complete a quest: a quest to expand and expose the potential within said genre, and to present it in one long opus that is a phenomenal-enough title to come full circle, enough for other groups to make the genre into a common day epic. The awe and nostalgia brimming of said album that would start an era of music to come. Of all the albums that have, quote, "started a genre", I have only come across three albums that truly filled the expectations. Court of the Crimson King is one.
The name of King Crimson should mean everything to any music lover. It has a sample of every music genre: the heavy, distorted guitars combines elements of hard rock and alternative, the crushing, constant drumming is like a more melodic metal, the varied instrumentals are exceptionally well-executed and bass-guitar dual riffs help tell the differences of progressive rock, it doesn't follow one rhythm each time, it continues onward with more tempos and varied instrumentals in between beats. The affinity for great vocal power in the vocalist's pitch proves otherwise, as it varies multiple times, such as the almost metallic voice on '21st Cenutry Schizoid Man', or the more settled, haunting inflection of 'Epitaph', and the more electronic, synthesized sections in 'Moonchild'. If anything, every element used in all music genres is brought together in this album, showing the creativity of Crimson King, undoubtedly making it more difficult to pick standout sections.
That being said, a mere five tracks that total up to fourty-six minutes can come as kind of a shock. Unlike the other three of the Big Four (Yes with their debut, Genesis with theirs), these songs tend to be longer than usual, not making it one of the easiest listens. It is, infinitely, an album that everyone should listen to, but a patient music lover will make it through the twelve-minute Moonchild. The shortest track is just above six minutes. It may be why I was hesistant of the album at first, due to the length of simply five tracks.
But the album expertly blends atmosphere, instrumental brilliance, and in-depth songwriting together in this phenomenal title. "The Court of the Crimson King" is one of the best examples of this, with various instruments, such as peaceful acoustic and flute sections, harmonic pianos, and a relaxing vocal performance by Ian McDonald. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is a dark, violent mini-epic that combines heavily distorted guitars, expert drum work by Giles, and great use of mellotron and picture-perfect flute and acoustic sections in "I Talk To The Wind".
If there was one thing that truly bugged me about this influential album, it might be the overlong length of some songs. Take an example of "Moonchild", the slightly less tolerable track on the album, at it's length of 12 minutes. Although the 9-and-a-half minute work of art ending, and the 8-minute masterpiece in the middle succeed, those wanting an album of 'normal length' will not find it here. But overall, I can't exactly find one aspect of Court of Crimson King that truly degrades it from being a brilliant album.
And that, my friends, is how progressive rock started.
Robert Fripp: Guitar
Ian McDonald: reeds, winds, vibes, mellotron, keys, vocals
Greg Lake: Lead Vocals, Bass
Michael Giles: Percussion, vocals
Peter Sinfeld: words and illumination