Posts Tagged ‘Neo-Prog’

Season of Mist – 4th November 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Bronze is the sixth album by Crippled Black Phoenix, the current musical vehicle for Justin Greaves, who has a remarkable CV which features Iron Monkey, Electric Wizard, The Varukers, and Earth 2 referencing drone supergroup Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine. They’ve spent a good few years mining a fresh seam of dark progressive music, and Bronze is an album which qualifies unreservedly for the label of ‘epic’.

As the pre-release blurb helpfully points out, ‘Bronze consists primarily of copper, but it is the inclusion of other metals and non-metals that gives this alloy its specific characteristics. Ever since mankind discovered the secret of its making thousands of years ago, the golden and shining bronze has changed the course of history, spawned destruction and war, yet also been crafted into desired objects of extreme beauty.’

And so it is that the first track, the expansive organ-style synth-soaked instrumental ‘Dead Imperial Bastard’ opens the album with a darkly funereal instrumental. ‘Deviant Burials’ locks into some solid riffing which contrasts with some surprisingly easy-going vocals, and the contrast between melody and driving guitars calls to mind Queens of the Stone Age in their poppier moments, before veering off into more overtly progressive territories with some expansive post-metal dynamics.

‘Rotten Memories’ is the album’s shortest track, and offers something approximating a dark pop song, albeit in the vein of the piano-led power ballad beloved during the 80s. it is, of course, but an interlude before the immense ‘Champions of Disturbance (pt 1 & 2)’, which segue together to form a nine-minute epic. It’s prog, for sure, but in the post-Oceansize sense, a sinewy, riff-led behemoth. ‘Goodbye Then’ brings wistful melancholia, which contrasts with the psych-tinged hard rock of ‘Turn to Stone’, and it’s clear that on this outing, Greaves has brought a whole host of stylistic elements to the party to produce an album that’s got range and depth and which brings emotional evocativeness as well as cinematicism and bombast.

The emotional depth is no fabrication: Greaves recently ‘went public’ about his personal fight against severe depression, and as the press release notes, ‘for him, not letting the “black dog” devour you is a big message mixed within his songs.

That doesn’t mean that Bronze is an easy or entirely uplifting album. In fact, it’s an album of remarkable range, and an album which is often awkward and emotionally bleak. While downtempo epics like ‘Losing a Winning Battle’ bring an expansive, progtastic darkness, what really shines through with ‘Bronze’ is its immense range, as well as its scope and ambition, which is matched by its ambition and production, this is a big album and perfectly executed.

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