Introduction, selection and commentaries by Wagner Hertzog
Given the fact that the experimental character of the group's music — which, by virtue of Justin Greaves' leadership, mostly reflects his creativity and preferences — is exceedingly experimental, and often crosses several genres, like neo-rock'n'roll, neo-psychedelia and ambient music, the sound of Crippled Black Phoenix is thoroughly hard to categorize. Most of all, Greaves' main priority revolves around the desire to develop a personal creative atmosphere that can provide the conception of something very unique, singular and original, capable of making the band's style easily recognizable, which, to a considerable extent, was sucessfully done, and heavily compromised with a degree of authenticity never seen before in the history of underground music.
As a matter of fact, all efforts made by Justin Greaves seems to be directed at designing something exceptionally singular; indeed, all the band's albums seems to attest the search for achieving superior goals of genuinely authorial standards of artistry, to the highest degree possible.
Well, now that you know a little about the history of this fantastic band, let's get down to what really matters, the music. Below, I selected my four favorite Crippled Black Phoenix albums — as well as a live performance, as a "bonus" —, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
The first of these albums is A Love of Shared Disasters — that, although I'm not quite certain —, I think it's their debut. Released in 2007, this exceedingly extensive album, seventy-seven minutes long, already features the proverbial elements that would make the group's style severely singular and expressively prominent. Smooth guitar lines, slow dispersive melodies, calm, serene and almost minimalist harmonious densities, that discreetly becomes ominously long, and sensible cantilenas diluted in an ocean of everlasting melancholy, all combined to project a magnificent, but almost delusional perception of a terribly vague, but desperate void.
The record has the following tracks: The Lament of the Nithered Mercenary, Really, How'd It Get This Way?, The Whistler, Suppose I Told the Truth, When You're Gone, Long Cold Summer, Goodnight, Europe, You Take the Devil Out of Me, The Northern Cobbler, My Enemies I Fear Not, But Protect Me from My Friends, I'm Almost Home and Sharks & Storms / Blizzard of Horned Cats. With a very beautiful, but profoundly technical, as well as impeccable musical diligence, the album is inadvertently authorial and highly experimental. Despite the fact that some passages are relatively monotonous, A Love of Shared Disasters manages to be an epic collection of musical symphonies, that seems perfectly aligned to one another, as a majestically crafted opera, that was entirely conceived from the outer elements of a distant galaxy, created especially to supply human existence with the most splendorous and solemn material ever designed for the delight of the soul.
A fantastically dense, majestic and graciously epic state of the art work, A Love of Shared Disasters will take you to a journey that you never thought it would be possible. But to fully enjoy the voyage, you will have to close your eyes. Your soul and your most introspective sensibilities will undertake the most fabulous journey you could ever do, without leaving your bedroom.
With an interesting, but very depressive and melancholic musicality, that displays some elements of blues — as well as progressive rock —, this compilation reunites the very best the band has done in their first five years of existence. With a fantastic ability to make sensationally soft, dispersive and omnipresent melodies, this exceptional masterpiece can be considered one of the band's greatest records; all of its majestic virtues condensate into an invariably smooth, but surreal epicenter of tragic sonorous rapture, whose marvelous appointments with desolation reveals a sometimes abrasive and rude rock 'n' roll, that flirts constantly with its own dramatic and disruptive tendencies.
The first track — the epic and spectacular Burnt Reynolds —, is an abrasive and sober anthem of sweet and desperate demise, that easily elongates in the frontiers of its own diffusive harmonies the poetic densities of its conspicuously pleasant and sensible sonorous atmosphere.
Although this record occasionally falls into more generic and monotonous musical territory — especially because the songs are so long, and here, unlike other albums the band released later, we have a more moderate degree of melodic variation —, 200 Tons Bad luck somewhat manages to be a gracious, serene and enjoyable work, that vividly shows the best qualities the band has to offer to its audience. Their unimaginable versatility, prominently featured throughout the record, also gives the listener sensational sensory surprises.
Unexpectedly, some songs transform literally into quasi-ballads, especially while turning into very tender and sentimental tunes. With a certain graceful voracity, which lulls the listener with a certain affability into its dispersing sound waves, I, Vigilante, proves to be a more compact, but also perceptively organic effort, whose strength relies heavily in the imperative uneasiness of its graciously sensible and poetic desire to sculpt slow harmonies in a more diffuse and elongated sonorous diagram.
A very interesting and majestic album, whose pristine, but proverbial tenacity easily aspires to a more deliberately fugacious type of artistry, I, Vigilante, is an album that goes from the dark propensities of existential lugubrious anthems of splendor to a realm of more dense and mundane sentimental rethorical lyricism, passing by wistfully romanthic serenades, whose gracious harmonies unquestionably float through the darkest ambivalences of the creative diagram of the music, showcasing a very ambitious, marvelous and relevant record, that undoubtedly deserves to be widely appreciated, from the very beginning until the end.
The fifth track — the song Of a Lifetime, with its powerfully emotional female vocals, and amazingly graceful, but also vehemently rapturous guitar lines — deserves the highest praise, for its incontestable beauty and exceptional majesty, whose wonderfully creative style displays a sensational atmosphere of classic grandiosity. The last track, the friendly sixties-styled rock 'n' roll tune Burning Bridges, closes this album with fantastic and unexpected opulence, exhibiting a versatility that confirms Crippled Black Phoenix polyvalent style as an inherent part of their unquestionable, unconventional and lucid degree of proficient and primordially uncompromising artistry. Undoubtedly, a powerful album, that has no flaws nor blank spaces whatsoever.
With eleven tracks — You Brought It Upon Yourselves, To You I Give, Uncivil War (pt I), Madman, Times, They Are A’Raging, Rain Black, Reign Heavy, Slow Motion Breakdown, Nebulas, Las Diabolicas, Great Escape (pt I) and Great Escape (pt II), —, this fantastic masterpiece displays a dramatic and very melancholic musical layout, perfectly compatible with the gloriously virtuous harmonies that make up the bulk of this majestic state of the art work.
With sober, wise and marvelously dilated melodies, the songs on Great Scape are filled with an expected density, that levitates beyond the unusual creative paradox of its own excessively fugacious musical diagram. Despite the more allegorical genesis of the album, nonetheless, the work is versatile and displays a majestic degree of eclecticism. For example, the song Madman is a very dark, depressive and lugubrious symphony of dispersive agony, that elongates the sober hardlines of its dense musical algorithms to deliberately exasperate the uneasiness of its dilated darkness. The next track, the extensive Times, They Are A’Raging, continues and expands precisely the same sonorous atmosphere, becoming basically a pristine and poetic anthem of digressive restlessness, that fully disperses the pragmatism of its own hopeless solitude in the marvelous guitar lines of a vast and plural creativity, that conceives a deranged mosaic of somber galaxies. The track Nebula — exceedingly gracious, sensationally beautiful and proverbially sad — deserves special mention, as the best song in the album, at least according to my personal preference. The first part of the title track, Great Escape (pt I), is also an interesting cantilena of tenderness and emotional grace, that showcases the magnificent versatility that has become a trademark of the band.
A thoroughly magnificent album, that expands in an exceedingly radical level all the general qualities of the band, Great Scape is a spectacular musical work, that certainly deserves to be qualified as a masterpiece. With a technical precision and a singular style amazingly versatile, vivid and dynamic, Crippled Black Phoenix one more time exceeds all expectations, and shows to everyone that they are, indeed, one of the best alternative bands in the world.
The fact that their formidable and consistent musicality is majestically transported to the stage in an almost effortless performance is something that seems too exceedingly astounding to be true; nevertheless, its easy to comprehend their exceptional stage presence when they start to play, as the sound gradually — but also tangentially — revolves around the dense perimeter of their exceptionally crafted melancholic, but concomitantly vivid symphonies. Definitely, Crippled Black Phoenix is almost as magnificent live as they are on their records. With a sensational vitality and a vigorous musical splendor, this particular performance certainly deserves to be classified as a majestic work of art by itself. The fact that they perform with three guitars brings even more restlessness to their unexpectedly authorial progressive style.
This wonderful concert is definitely a great gift for all fans and enthusiasts of the band, who are sure to be thrilled with a performance of such astounding level of artistic grandeur. If you haven't watched, please watch. I'm sure you will be exceedingly delighted.