BLACK CROWN INITIATE’s Prog-Tech-Death metal has all the elements of technical death metal: tremolo picking, blast beats, growled vocals and an exacting finesse but all cloaked in a well-tailored mantle of innovation, jazz elements, and clean vocals of progressive metal. After the first three measures of the first song, I knew I would enjoy the album.
The ten tracks of The Wreckage of Stars inspire dark, glittering emotions sharp as jagged glass. This is music for the Wild Hunt, where you either ride with the Horned Lord or get trampled beneath the hooves of the night mares. The album evokes moods of despair and disillusionment peppered with bursts of rage and surreal calm. I always write my first impressions of an album down before I read the bios or interviews. BLACK CROWN INITIATE intended to invoke the “old-God” constructs. Mission accomplished.
If you are a drum geek, this album will send you to the moon. The Wreckage of Stars gives the drummer’s talent as much spotlight as the guitars. The band as a whole writes melodic music that breathes. The bass guitar doesn’t mindlessly play along with the guitar while mimicking the bass beats. There is interplay between all the instruments like a professional five part choir. Each one holds a different melody, coming together at various points in the tracks and then separating into haunting harmonies. The drummer, with his keen sense of the head and cymbal tones of his set, actively counterpointed with the melodies, which contributed to some of the most beautiful moments on the album. Tracks that best illustrate this:
01 The Great Mistake
02 The Fractured One
07 The Wreckage of Stars
The compositions are complex, the execution technical, and there are many moments of sheer genius. There are also moments where I lose my equilibrium. I found the flow interrupted by the complexity of the drumming, which walked that fine line between refreshingly innovative and ponderously overdone, especially in “Linear” where the blast beats seemed woefully out of place. I understand that when you have that much ability, you’ll want to test it and so does your audience. Sometimes, it doesn’t blend well but I’ll take innovation and exertion over laziness any day. Others may have a different opinion since it is a very fine line that shifts for different listening tastes. Tracks to consider:
04 The Human Lie Manifest
08 Shapes Collapse
Each song had several measures where I sat back and mused over the interplay of the various parts. Sometimes the mood was deliciously brutal while other times, I savored a delicacy that gave a fourth dimension to what can be a relentless genre. The clean vocals were fleshed out by the harsh rendering a sonic depth that few bands know how to achieve. In fact, the use of any kind of vocals was given great thought, just as the final touches on a painting.
Most Brutal track: 06 To the Eye That Leads You
Most Delicate track: 05 Withering Waves
With this much talent and this being their first full-length album, I am anticipating great things from BLACK CROWN INITIATE. The production is excellent and enhances the musicians’ strengths. Innovation and experimentation leads artists to take risks and there were plenty of moments on The Wreckage of Stars where the risk reaped amazing rewards. There were also moments where the risk resulted in a moment or two of disconnect. I hope that their artistic bravery continues so that the next album will build upon and exceed their wildest imaginings.
The album will drop on September 30th via eOne Music. BLACK CROWN INITIATE will be touring with UNEARTH starting October 13th in Montreal QC and ending October 22nd in Winston-Salem, NC. Purchase tickets HERE.
I.O. Kirkwood is a Metal Descent contributor. Visit her blog at iokirkwood.com.