One of extreme metal’s most promising and hyped prospects, Reading Pennsylvania’s Black Crown Initiate, have finally unleashed their debut LP, The Wreckage of Stars (eOne). The hype here is real and well deserved following last year’s crushing self-released Song of the Crippled Bull EP, joining eOne’s mutant shark-tank of a metal roster and a guest spot on The Metal Alliance Tour.
So how does The Wreckage of Stars stack up to the debut EP?
It takes the chops and promise on display on the EP and gives it the CinemaScope treatment. Much like The Faceless’ Planetary Duality in 2008 the tracks build on their predecessors. The compositions are given a deeper low-end sound and are allowed to breathe and shift through various dynamics. Songs can go from sounding like its raining hammers on concrete to Devin Townsend or Opeth-like progressive melodies. My own slight knock with this approach is that on a song like the otherwise superb ‘Withering Waves’ they resort to the clean-sung chorus a few too many times. It sounds less dynamic and more formulaic.
Part of the fun for a death metal enthusiast like myself is with numbers like ‘To the Eye That Leads You’ and ‘The Malignant’ where it’s all about the groove and suffocating double bass drumming.
In conclusion, Black Crown Initiate serve as a reminder to death metal’s constant evolution and unwillingness to die. Everyday online I read the crying and moaning that death metal hasn’t been the same since the “good ole days” in Tampa Florida. And while Tampa in 1991 was an almost unreal musical environment, there’s still plenty of good today. We are fortunate enough to have young bands like Fallujah, Rivers of Nihil, Abiotic, Job For a Cowboy and now Black Crown Initiate who grew up listening to the Florida master class and are putting their own spin on the most extreme of genres. The future looks bright.