REVIEW: BLACK CROWN INITIATE – “Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape”
In his work A Will To Power, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: “For nothing is self-sufficient, neither in us ourselves nor in things; and if our soul has trembled with happiness and sounded like a harp string just once, all eternity was needed to produce this one event—and in this single moment of affirmation all eternity was called good, redeemed, justified, and affirmed.” The music on Black Crown Initiate’s latest album titled Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape provides a wealth of soul trembling music which affirms what is great about metal music.
Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape is the third full-length album by Black Crown Initiate. The album is scheduled to be released by Century Media on August 7th, 2020. The core of the band remains with James Dorton (brutal vocals), Andy Thomas (clean vocals and guitar), and Nick Shaw (bass). Guitarist Ethan McKenna joined the band in 2018. While no drummer is officially listed as replacing Samuel Santiago, Gabe Seeber is credited with the drums on the new album.
As with other releases by Black Crown Initiate, the music is highly dynamic and demanding. This is a band that revels in contrasts. They make liberal use of calm musical interludes that dramatically shift into blinding rage. You’ll hear this on the opening track “Invitation”. A pensive acoustic guitar accompanies the emotive grace of Andy’s clean vocals. As the tension builds, the music shifts into a thunderhead of agonized rage which is perfectly reflected in the blistering vocals of James Dolan as well as the forceful guitars and bass.
The songwriting on Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape is extraordinary. In addition to the push and pull of the dynamic changes, the songs capture a range of emotions. There is a sense of anxious doom sprinkled with revelation and wonder on “Son of War”. There is hope in juxtaposition with the lyrical content of “Trauma Bonds”. The drums are used to great effect here to empower the emotional swings within the song.
The highlight of Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape are the songs “Years In Fridge Light” and “Bellow”. “Years in Fridge Light” is a masterpiece. The aggression hammers at you in waves that break upon rocks of deep contemplation. As the song recedes like a thunderstorm into the distance, you hear the eerie magnetism of kargyraa throat singing which then leads to the song “Bellow”. This song starts with a more traditional blend of kargyraa (lower) frequencies. However, this gives way to a death metal roaring version of throat singing. “Bellow” is a unique and compelling track.
In addition to the challenging arrangements and spectacular musical performances, Black Crown Initiate provokes your mind with the lyrical content on Violent Portraits of a Doomed Escape. “Invitation” offers such compelling verses as “Fate sealed; He invites his cancer in. It bores a hole and he fills it up with sin”. Or wonder about the line “The misery only guides them to the grave” in the song “Trauma Bonds”. Is it our doom to forever cycle through pain and trauma or is there a way to become the god we’ve created in our image as a portrait of impossible perfection?
Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape by Black Crown Initiate is an exquisite and strapping musical creation. The album provides a welcome respite from the suffering of life. The enthralling soundscapes crafted by Black Crown Initiate contrast the dark with the light, the brutal with the humane, and the pain with the pleasure. This album has everything a progressive metal fan who dabbles in death will enjoy. The brilliant songwriting and performances on this album will make it a classic for years to come.