Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage of Stars (eOne Music)

Sunday, 7th September 2014
Rating: 10/10

It’s pretty safe to say that Black Crown Initiate took the metal world by storm last summer with the release of their Song of the Crippled Bull EP. An impeccable mixture of the more progressive side of things (a la Opeth), yet never shying away from devastating brutality provided a fresh perspective in a genre that is too often content to recycle and churn out more of the same old thing. But with such an impressive debut, oftentimes heightened expectations can get in the way (along with the sometimes tricky transition from EP to full-length). Does Black Crown Initiate succeed with their first long player? The short answer: absolutely!

The ability to mix and match metal subgenres with seamless transitions and coherence continues to be the centerpiece of Black Crown Initiate. You have blastbeat-ridden scorchers like “The Human Lie Manifest,” “Shapes Collapse,” and “The Fractured One” that contrast against the dirgy, post-metal influences of the title track and triumphant, progressively-tinged closer “Linear.” These types of tracks alone make The Wreckage of Stars a must-hear, but intricately weaving all of these elements into individual tracks is what elevates the album into a true showstopper. “Purge” opens with a catchy acoustic introduction only to push into burly death metal riffage, which then alternates between the two extremes until a repeated roaring of “purge” brings it to a powerful climax. “Malignant” also gives a brief acoustic build that quickly explodes into one of the album’s most menacing sections, with vocalist James Dorton hitting high screams while being encompassed by spiraling blastbeats. The track continues to switch dynamically between driving death metal and more melodic moments in which Andy Thomas’ soaring clean vocals shine, often used to powerful effect over blastbeats. “Withering Waves” sounds as if Opeth decided to get off their high horse and dive deeper into technically-proficient death metal to accompany their proggier side.

There is nary a wasted note to be found on The Wreckage of Stars. Everything seems to have its rightful place and purpose, and the production is suitably wicked (particularly with a pair of headphones). The band even uses some repetition to its advantage (much like Song of the Crippled Bull’s “Ghost She Sends”) with the heavier moments, allowing riffs to bury themselves into your skull while they build to enormous payoff. The escalation on “To the Eye That Leads You” is sure to be devastating in the live venue.

Even more dynamic than Song of the Crippled Bull, The Wreckage of Stars ebbs and flows in ways that few albums can. Full of spine-tingling moments throughout, Black Crown Initiate have fully delivered on the promise of their EP and established themselves as one of heavy metal’s premier acts. A band capable of taking their influences and crafting a unique and widely palatable mix of extreme metal doesn’t come around everyday and the level of buzz the band is generated is for good reason. Black Crown Initiate is the future of heavy metal and The Wreckage of Stars is a mandatory listen.

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