Black Spirit Crown’s first proper album sits right on the line between Doom and Stoner Metal with hints of Prog seeping through. The fuzzy riff work is rooted in Sleep and Electric Wizard tradition, the hustling tempos remind me of Orange Goblin, and the tripped-out atmospherics and vocal filters echo Howling Giant or Mastodon. These traits were already distinct on the Red Sky EP released in 2017 and the Cleveland group takes them to even further extents with Gravity (Self-Released).
That sense of hustle is what really works in Black Spirit Crown’s favor compared to many of their peers in the Stoner Doom scene. The guitar and bass tone are incredibly fuzzy while still allowing the galloping riffs to come out coherently, the drums are generally fast-paced and hard-hitting, and the vocals aren’t afraid to sprinkle in the occasional growl among the mostly melodic wails. ‘Orb’ and lead single ‘Teutates’ make for the album’s most high-octane numbers, the latter featuring an especially memorable chorus, and even the comparably psychedelic opener ‘Doomstar’ throws in some harsher vocals at the climax.
With that template established with the first four songs, Gravity’s title track ends up opting for a near opposite approach. It leans the most on those Sleep influences as the tempo is halted to a grindingly slow pace and the riffs take on a more monolithic character while still retaining that heavy fuzz. While this does make for some solid ambiance, especially with the bookending synth swells, it feels like the structure meanders a bit much to really justify a length of twenty-one minutes.
Overall, Black Spirit Crown’s first full-length is a powerful display of Stoner Doom. While the title track would’ve benefitted from a little editing, the other songs do a fantastic job of blending energetic rhythms with memorable melodicism while sustaining a cool psych aesthetic throughout. Whether they improve on their more methodical musings or double down on their strengths, there’s a lot of potentials to shine even brighter in the future. Listeners who like their Stoner Prog with a little extra beef are advised to check this out.
8 / 10