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Crippled Black Phoenix – Banefyre Award winner

Crippled Black Phoenix
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 08 September 2022, 3:29 PM

From Bandcamp, “Since its 2004 creation by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Justin Greaves, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX has served as the voice for the voiceless, whether it be animals, the unequal and the different. Henceforth, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX’s mission has been to shed light on the human condition and the inequalities that befall humankind and its creatures. Their battle marches on with their latest studio album, “Banefyre.” The record is imbued with the depth and introspection that will reinforce CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX’s standing as a band that defies genres. The album contains twelve songs.

“Intro/Incantation for yth Different” opens the album. It’s hard to describe what I am listening to here. They are eerie incantations, and some spoken word. Musically, it is very minimal. This is highly personal music any way you slice it. “Witches and Basterdz” is a bit more linear in its approach. Melancholy tones combine with solemn female vocals. Eerie sounds abound in the background. It begins to swell, with harsh vocals for a few bars, then retreats. “Ghostland” begins with a heavy drone of slow moving electronica and vocal incantations. Again, it swells, this time with anger, building to a crescendo before an abrupt ending. “The Reckoning” moves with a bit of a swing, in a mid-tempo jaunt with clean male vocals. Dark and cloudy, it reminds me of the darker side of THE CURE. The melodies are just a bit playful but also solemn.

“Bonefire” drips with regret from smooth and sad female vocals. Heavy bass tones combine with clean guitars in a trance that will leave you contemplating things you never imagined you would have the time to even think about. “Rose of Jericho” is a thirteen-minute opus. According to a horticulture site, “the Rose of Jericho is one of the most fascinating houseplants out there. It’s incredibly easy to care for because it can dry out completely and “come back to life” with just a short soak in water.” It must also be a beautiful flower, because the song magnanimous. Like a good love tragedy, you can’t look away. The skies soon grey however, and the sound evens out to a nighttime leisurely drive through the desert, on an endless straight highway.

“Blackout 77” is another eerie offering with a smooth, dreamy atmosphere. I picture various tones of blue, calming and welcoming. The chorus moves closer to the light, with heavy, burdensome, and emotive tones. “Down the Rabbit Hole” is a ten-minute opus. The opening female vocals are very heavy with vibrato. A rabbit hole is a colloquial term for a deep dive into a topic that you aren’t familiar with, or want to know more about. She crushes you with the weight of her vocals, and the music is equally moving. Drums pick up after the half-way mark, and some energy is injected into this solemn sound. Mesmerizing tones then waltz in, and she croons “we are gonna be alright.” “Everything is Beautiful but Us” is a very somber song title, and the music is reflected in that title. Dreamy tones carry the song forward, and the vocalist almost whispers her angst. The vocals pick up towards the end, with male harmonies.

“The Pilgrim” is a slow moving, and somewhat trippy song within the guitar tones. The vocals are very stalwart, and very matter-of-fact in their delivery. A pilgrim is often a solitary traveler. “I’m OK, Just Not Alright” begins with someone crying. She is trying to convince you that you are alright, but not doing a very good job at it. Sad, doleful tones are replaced with the resolve of the human spirit. You have the sense of someone really struggling to get through their day, but not making any headway. “The Scene is a False Prophet” is a fifteen-minute beast. The sad sound develops slowly. It’s half-way in and there isn’t much going on, besides some eerie tones in the background. The tones that follow are delicately beautiful and sad at the same time. “No Regrets” closes the album. It’s an angry closer, fueled by harsh vocals and a weighted landscape.

For a band that has been around as long as CRIPPED BLACK PHOENIX, just playing the odds here, their musical well should have dried up years ago. Yet, the magic continues. “Banefyre” contains twelve original songs within the umbrella of Rock music that explore nearly every bit of what that near-infinite umbrella contains, deftly defying genre classification as mentioned above. Although Post-Metal or Post-Rock might be the closest categorization, it only really scratches the surface of the dozen songs on the album. The music is alive with feeling and emotions, sometimes sad and other times close to happy, but never quite reaching that fulfillment. It’s a reminder of humankind’s endless battle with this cruel thing that we call “life.”

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Intro/Incantation for yhe Different
2. Wyches and Basterdz
3. Ghostland
4. The Reckoning
5. Bonefire
6. Rose of Jericho
7. Blackout77
8. Down The Rabbit Hole
9. Everything Is Beautiful but Us
10. The Pilgrim
11. I'm OK, Just Not Alright
12. The Scene Is a False Prophet
13. No Regrets
Justin Greaves – Guitars, Bass, Drums, Samples, Saw
Belinda Kordic – Vocals, Percussion
Helen Stanley – Grand Piano, Synthesizers, Monochord, Trumpet
Andy Taylor – Guitar, Baritone Guitar, 12 String Guitar
Joel Segerstedt – Vocals, Guitar
Record Label: Season of Mist Records


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