Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape: Album Review

Black Crown Initiate take no prisoners on their epic and vast new full length player.

Released: 7th August 2020

Label: Century Media

Format: CD / LP / Digital

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Black Crown Initiate have been making waves over the past decade or so with their technical death metal. Their previous efforts have been warmly received and they have toured with the likes of Goatwhore, Behemoth and 1349.

Opener, Invitation, sets the scene; there is a grandeur in the opening of the album that really shows that Black Crown Initiate are not your archetypal death metal band. They play with a range of tempos, timbre and tone throughout. Invitation feels like an album closer at the start such is the epic nature of the composition.

Some of the bass styles from Nick Shaw’s four string have a feel of Tesseract and the soloing in the near eight minute opening piece is superb. Sun Of War also has some vehement breakneck soloing. Black Crown Initiate have the knack of dropping in these parts in a less is more fashion to devastating effect.

The blend of vocal styles is something that traverses throughout with James Dorton and guitarist, Andy Thomas, sharing the duties. Son Of War has plenty of soaring clean vocals as well as dastardly growled vocals atop some furious blast beat drumming. Trauma Bonds has an almost ‘bright’ opening but when the guitars and drums hit, the song is taken to deeper depths. Again, the great use of vocals stands out.

Years In Frigid Light explores the progressive side of the band further. The bass playing is again integral but the use of a drone like chant as the bed for the music makes for an entirely unnerving experience.

The hum of the chant gives way to another unnerving chant on Bellow; an incessant incantation recalls some of Sunn 0)))’s darkest moments in the live arena. The creation of this frightening invocation acts as the gateway to the second side of the album.

Death Comes In Reverse brings lighter flourishes again but do not be fooled; the ferocity never leaves the fore. The aforementioned Sun Of War again has serenity as its bookends but balladry this is not. Bast beats obliterate the sound and drive the piece brutally.

Brutality continues to prevail on Holy Silence, but the instrumental section towards the end of the piece, and the ensuing solo, make for epic listening. The whole of the album feels like a build to this moment. He Is The Path offers a mournful ending to the album and acts as the end of the album in the same way that Bellow punctuates the album in two.

Black Crown Initiate are masters of their instruments. Every aspect of this album shines. The savagery of the guitars and the barbarity of the drums will rip your face off. On the flip side, the blend of extremely hard and deftly soft during the album ensure that this album never lets you switch off.

In a year that has been largely forgettable for many, the extreme metal world has flourished with Atavist, The Black Dahlia Murder, Xibalba and Vampire (amongst others) all releasing stellar albums. Black Crown Initiate can add Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape to the list of excellent extreme 2020 releases.

Check out the brilliant video for Holy Silence from Black Crown Initiate.

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