The masters of progressive death metal that are Black Crown Initiate have returned with a brand new album after a 4 year break. For those that have maybe never come across the band before, their style is one with many little intricacies and changes in timbre with both quieter sections and aggressive sections. With their previous album being one that our own Sheggs rather enjoyed, will this new one live up to the high standard set by its predecessor?
If we’re going to be judging by the opening track alone, then definitely so. Opening with acoustic guitars and clean vocals “Invitation” lives up to its name by inviting you into the wonderful musical world that the band has created. The transition to harsh vocals and overdriven guitars slams like a tonne of bricks and flows into a track that gets the head banging and opens the album up exceptionally well.
Following tracks “Son of War” and “Trauma Bonds” continue this trend of blending musical spheres with the former serving as the primarily heavy track and the latter having a superb clean guitar opener. The harsh vocals from lead vocalist James and clean vocals from Andy merge beautifully and sound equally earth-shattering and soothing respectively. This is made even more apparent on the following track “Years in Frigid Light” which has a number of riff changes that would put even Opeth to shame.
Things get interesting with “Bellow” having a sound that’s reminiscent of old Mongolian throat singing. It’s something that at first might sound a bit odd, but it fits with the rest of the album and serves as a nice interlude. “Death Comes in Reverse” and “Sun of War” follow and as before continue with the expert blend of clean and overdriven melodies. The latter in particular has a post rock-esque opening section which would be at home on an If These Trees Could Talk album.
Rounding out the album, “Holy Science” and album closer “He is The Path” offer up even more variety to the soundscape. Whilst the former is of the style that’s common across the album, the latter is primarily clean vocals and piano mixed with clean guitar. Both tracks offer up excellent melodies and sound excellent, however the latter just edges ahead due to it being one of a kind on the album.
Whilst there is a lot going on musically in this album, none of it feels overdone or not fitting. Yes, there are moments where the music may challenge you as the listener, but as a whole the album flows end to end rather easily and continues to get better after every time you listen. In comparison to other albums in the genre, Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape might not be reinventing the wheel, but it’s sure as hell helping it keep gaining momentum and bringing the genre to new and exciting frontiers.
Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape is out now