Black Crown Initiate
Song of the Crippled Bull


3.5
great

Review

by Jacquibim CONTRIBUTOR (45 Reviews)
November 8th, 2013 | 44 replies | 7,976 views


Release Date: 07/17/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Black Crown Initiate avoid the progressive death roadblocks and craft one of the biggest surprises of the year.

In a time when progressive death metal is more the subject of snobbish ridicule than admiration, Black Crown Initiate have completely left themselves open to mockery as they drop their debut EP Song of The Crippled Bull. All the hallmarks for which progressive death metal is collectively derided are found right here. Grandiose instrumentation? Check. Forays into softer “atmospheric” sections? Check. Alternation between clean and harsh vocals? Check. Squeaky clean, modern production? Check. What’s more is that it’s so uncompromising in its execution. Normally, you’d expect a newcomer to the progressive death metal scene to tip-toe across the line between virtuosity and reservation, but not these guys. Already content with their sound, Black Crown Initiate pull no punches during this onslaught of technical skill and ambitious song-writing. But what’s more impressive than their confidence and resolution is that they managed to pull it off in such a sublime and surprisingly accessible manner.

Song of The Crippled Bull opens smoothly with delicate guitar work and some tasteful, unpolished clean singing reminiscent of a younger Mikael Akerfeldt. Before long, the death metal elements kick in and the band embarks on an unbroken journey of ferocity and dynamism. The guitar work is particularly impressive on account of its sheer diversity. Incorporating the usual hyper-quick tremolo strumming and melodious tech riffage characteristic of progressive death, the guitar work also extends into various other styles while maintaining a cohesive edge. The softer, more sorrowful sections compliment the death metal elements perfectly, borrowing melodies and rhythms and stripping them back to create a stable but contrasting continuation. James Dorton possesses an excellent range and crucially sounds good on both sides of the spectrum, but though his harsh vocals are impressive, they aren’t exactly remarkable. What makes his vocal performance so enthralling is the interplay between his clean singing and the guitarists. For example, towards the latter half of the opening track, the guitars fall back into a passage of power chords while the clean vocals take centre stage, only for the lead guitar to imitate the vocal melody and create an impressive climax.

The production, courtesy of Carson Slovak, is impressive considering the band is unsigned, rivalling the clarity sported by some of the genre’s biggest acts. However, while the clarity allows you to absorb the EP’s details with relative ease, the mixing still saps some of the vibrancy from the would-be-more euphoric moments. The climax to “The Mountain Top” is the best example of the mix stifling the crescendo effects, as every instrument rises to their respective maximums, the result is a little bit messy as opposed to the organised chaos the was presumably intended. Minor qualm aside, what makes this release such an immersive experience isn’t its instrumental complexity, but its overall cohesion. The EP is best taken in one hit and thought of as a single song, as evidenced by the opening vocal melody reappearing – albeit in a more exalted form – in the final track. The same case applies the latter clean section of the opener, which reappears twice in “The Mountain Top” as the chorus. Black Crown Initiate have avoided the usual progressive death clichés, eg. a melody or hook being lifted from earlier in the record and lumped in at the end, giving a false impression of it seeming connected. Throughout the EP, motifs reappear and are reinterpreted as the record progresses, creating a seamless, uninterrupted but constantly engaging listen.

Song of The Crippled Bull is one of the biggest surprises of the year, not simply because such a new band has shown such a rock-solid musical vision, but how they defied the genre limitations. A twenty-minute song by an unsigned progressive death act formed only a year ago? It had all the makings of a disaster waiting to happen. By virtue of their methodical craftsmanship, Black Crown Initiate have well and truly established themselves as a force to reckoned with. Watch this space.



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user ratings (94)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
November 8th 2013



11391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not AOTY material but still pretty damn awesome.

Digging: Howls of Ebb - Vigils of the 3rd Eye

tommygun
November 8th 2013



21345 Comments


pos

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
November 8th 2013



11391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks bb are you gonna read tho?

tommygun
November 8th 2013



21345 Comments


yea tomorrow ok if you fix the album title and lowercase the of and the the then i will read

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
November 8th 2013



11391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Too much effort.

tempest--
November 8th 2013



10822 Comments


I like how each paragraph opens the same way

Jacquibim
Contributing Reviewer
November 8th 2013



11391 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I noticed that once I uploaded it, noticed a few mistakes too, gonna fix.

adr
November 8th 2013



1029 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yey finnaly a review for this :!

this slays. good review, agree with the rating, 4.5 is not far though. One of my favourite releases this year.

emester
November 8th 2013



762 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Happy this is getting some recognition! With this and Colored Sands, 2013 has been a great year for progressive death metal. Def a a strong 4. btw solid review

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

TheNotrap
November 8th 2013



7817 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cool stuff. Promising band.

Mister Twister
November 8th 2013



1435 Comments


Do you have like someone trailing you that serves no purpose but to neg your reviews? They really shouldn't be negged, you're one of the best non-contrib/staffers here.

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2013



5923 Comments


tried to look for this a while ago, was never able to find a dl anywhere so haven't listened to it but it seems to be getting hyped up hardcore as one of the best eps of the year

Nocturnal
November 8th 2013



1177 Comments


Overrated.

Here have a neg.

Digging: The Contortionist - Exoplanet

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2013



5923 Comments


that's fucked up

CaptainDooRight
November 8th 2013



26409 Comments


dam who would neg my nigga,

pos'd hard,

album links so me can check?

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2013



5923 Comments


it's only a few songs iirc

will find a link and bandcamp you up but haven't listened to this so i have no recs 4ya

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2013



5923 Comments


http://blackcrowninitiate.bandcamp.com/album/song-of-the-crippled-bull

CaptainDooRight
November 8th 2013



26409 Comments


sweet thx bro, will check

KILL
November 8th 2013



67082 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

vocals are real gay and fuck the drop z chugs

overproduced chode

Mister Twister
November 8th 2013



1435 Comments


dont worry gnarly

nocturnal is like the worst user ever



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