Everyone wants that “I knew them when” feeling. That vicarious victory of having known an artist before they were famous. The sensation doesn't have to be entire legitimate to be fulfilling. Sometimes you can synthesize it in your mind, through having bought an acts first release and been captivated with it to the point of boring friends, family and passes by with rhapsodies of its greatness.

I do not know any members of The Black Crown Initiate, except for the ubiquity of Facebook association but the feeling of joy in anothers success fills my body with joy as I listen to this, their first full length release.

They have crafted an album which is nothing short of inspirational. Filled with the kind of power, prescience and song writing that made me writhe around in peals of unmitigated jealousy. And I'm not even in a metal band. The level of substantive success they achieve with this record needs to be heard to be rendered real.

Where their first EP, the stunning Song of the Crippled Bull, drew mainly upon a series of brutal and melodic Death metal influences, The Wreckage of the Stars channels its causal motivation very much from the bleaker field of Black Metal. But it does with without losing any of the percipient melody or wholistic directness of their first work. It wears its darkness in manifold guises; a cavalcade of chilling riffs, highly textured drums unabashed and manipulative in the way they drive the songs and Vocals that beguile the mind with their complicit control and haunting tone.

The ultimate key to their success within the walls of this collection is the way that they managed to marry the silken skills of songcraft to the twin pillars of Technicality and Brutality. A skill which allows them to carve effortlessly (it seems) sonic idols of lushious bleakness. Moving with a tacit alacrity from rousing, full throated choruses to passages so full of technique and groove that you could contort your face all day and not morph an expression of descriptive satisfaction.

Not content merely with having this considerable skill at their fingertips, they also seem to be very much in control of their music as art. The tracks segue into each other tonally, providing moments of essential connection between songs in a fashion that lifts music out of the “moment” and grants it access to posterity. Encasing what is usually temporary and fleeting with a stamp of permanence. For this is Progressive Death Metal that the Mainstream can really embrace, but doesn't smooth any of the edges which make it febrile and exciting to the genres regulars.

They layer viscousness over groove in an unyielding and petrifying storm of skill, ownership and judgement. Blasts and broken beats weaving in between the highly detailed riffs like a skier. One moment in downhill mode, the next in slalom. Balance, poise and power all fed into their mighty mincing music machine, producing some of the most engaging and genuinely heavy music to be produced this year.

It is rare music that makes you feel both intelligent and stupid at the same time; convinced of your cleverness by how you can recognise its brilliance yet utterly in thrall to your own lack of consequential talent to create something as cohesive and complete as this.

No more words. Just buy this.

– John Whitmore


Black Crown Initate: Facebook // Bandcamp //  Merch