When Black Crown Initiate came out of nowhere last year with their EP Song of the Crippled Bull, it was quite clear that they were on to something. The EP was short, but it was a great mix of Opeth-styled progressive death metal done heavier with 8 string guitars and blast beats. When they (yet again, out of nowhere) announced that they’re releasing a full length album this year, it was difficult to not get excited. The band’s debut full length album The Wreckage of Stars is what anyone who listened to the EP would expect as a next step in their sound – an album full of great riffs, memorable lines and heaviness contrasted with calm.
Song of the Crippled Bull was painfully short, not as a failing but because it was too good. It was so easy to want more. With The Wreckage of Stars, the band deliver on their promise: it’s a satisfyingly lengthy album that explores all facets of the band’s sound extensively. There are so many cool riffs spread across all the songs, each one of them immediately identifiable. The vocals are a combination of powerful screams and clean sections that are quite unique and catchy. It’s quite remarkable how well-crafted each section of each song is – every riff flows well with sections before and after it.
Fast tremolo picking, blast beats, flashy technical spectacles, melodic chords, time signature shenanigans and slow grooves – all the staples of a progressive death metal band are present. Of course, along with the heavy stuff, the band also pull off slower, more atmospheric sections pretty impressively too. At times, the album feels like a perfect mix of Opeth’s Deliverance and The Contortionist‘s Exoplanet, two albums that are great at balancing harsh and mellow textures. The production being great doesn’t hurt either – all the instruments are clear and crisp without sounding overly processed and expressionless.
The album does have one flaw, but it’s not a fatal one. Certain riffs, especially heavier ones, repeat a few times too many in some songs. The riffing is really cool, but with how expertly each transition, each harmony, each individual instrumental part are handled, the repetition does stand out as a weaker point. If the rest of the music wasn’t so excellent, this complaint would probably not stick out, but unfortunately it does. Then again, it’s not that it’s an issue of endless copy-pasting, it’s just that the fact that the songs are generally so dynamic that repeating a certain pattern more than a couple of times contrasts with that. Only at times like this one is reminded that this is only Black Crown Initiate’s debut album – the album is better than what most bands put out over their entire discography, it feels like a late-career masterpiece. There’s no reason to worry though, the overall quality of the riffing makes this all excusable, as listening to great riffs four times instead of two isn’t really a huge issue.
In the end, The Wreckage of Stars is an insanely solid debut album. It would be easy to mistake Black Crown Initiate for a death metal super-group while listening to this. Definitely one of the most noteworthy debut albums in a while, The Wreckage of Stars is a must-listen for any fan of heavier music, as the album just oozes quality and the riffs will be stuck in any listener’s head for days.
Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars gets…