Review: Crippled Black Phoenix – Bronze

A self-described ‘dark progressive’ outfit from the UK, Crippled Black Phoenix is an ensemble helmed by multi-instrumentalist Jason Greaves, and has featured contributions from members of celebrated progressive acts including Mogwai, Portishead and Electric Wizard on previous releases. Now, Greaves and his band have returned with brand new full-length ‘Bronze’.

An intriguing mix of post-rock and old school progressive textures, opening track ’Deviant Burials’ is a strong indicator of Crippled Black Phoenix’ direction on ‘Bronze’, with a dank ambient intro giving way to doomier riffing. However, it is not until fifth track ’Champions of Disturbance (Pt 1 & 2)’ that this record really demonstrates what it’s really capable of, a song that recalls Pink Floyd’s more riff driven moments. Part one is four minutes of intense piano-sprinkled build up before diving head first into a rousing heavier section repeat with squealing guitars and weird, robotic vocals. ’Turn to Stone’ also follows suit with its retroist sound – an amalgam of many of the key elements of 70s hard rock, it stands as another highlight.

Despite these moments of greatness, it’s not all gold. Alongside some fairly corny spoken word samples, the album’s not inconsiderable 70 minutes is at times wasted on overextended ambient sections, such as on opening salvo ’Dead Imperial Bastard’, or the breathy melodrama of ’Goodbye Then’, and as a result ‘Bronze’ has an irritating tendency of getting lost in itself.

These dips aside, the record closes on the epic ‘We Are The Darkeners’, with a particularly memorable guitar motif, it ensures a strong finish to an album that on the whole has more positives than negatives.

What is clear is that Crippled Black Phoenix’s biggest stumbling block is their overabundance of ideas, and while there are moments on here that would work well as part of a soundtrack, what is an otherwise solid album is sometimes marred by a lack of focus.

3/5

‘Bronze’ by Crippled Black Phoenix is released November 4th on Season Of Mist.

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Words by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)

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