Crippled Black Phoenix: Great Escape (Season Of Mist)
Crippled Black Phoenix are an enigma of a band, more of a musical collective the only constant being Justin Greaves, having been tagged as "stoner prog" "freak folk" and "psychedelic doom" CBP are a band not constrained by any one genre drawing influence from emotions rather than genres, there's always been a kind of misery vs hope sound to CBP the overwhelming darkness underpinned by elements of beauty. Much of this is due to the band always bringing in musicians from the extreme metal bands so musically they do the same the huge slow burning doom-laden riffs countered by synths, pianos and samples that take these songs in a different direction. You've Brought This Upon Yourselves has an electronic soundscape paired with Eric Fromm's Sane Society speech. It breaks into the stuttered To You I Give a slow building song to start the record that has more than a hint of their distinctive riff from fan favourite Burnt Reynolds.
It's a the first chance to hear the vocals of Daniel Änghede whose low tones are haunting over the powerful rhythm section of Ben Wilsker and Tom Greenway, it's a song that simmers until the final part where it picks up creating the dark atmosphere that CBP dwell in, Madman is troubling with the electronics of Mark Furnevall having the industrial thump of Gary Numan before Helen Stanley's grand piano takes centre stage for the beginning of the 11 minute Times, They Are A Ragin before the it builds layer upon oppressive layer Jonas Stålhammar adding some emotive lead lines over the percussive backing as it explodes into life all reverb vocals hefty organs and heavy riffs with Jonas letting rip with amazing soulful leads.
It's an exhilarating track before the Gothic folk of Rain Black, Reign Heavy is the first appearance of Belinda Kordic on the vocals and Stanley on trupert giving it the sound of desolation. There's a lot to take in on Great Escape it's not an easy album but then no CBP album is, equally it won't please everyone but then Crippled Black Phoenix have never wanted to be popular they want make music on their own terms and now signed to Season Of Mist they seem to be producing some of the best of their career. Nebulas is cathartic and propulsive while Great Escape (Pt.1) and (Pt.2) are just mesmerising due to their sheer difference part one an ambient affecting statement, with part 2 being the brooding heavy track with a shimmering Floydian middle.
This two piece closes out the album brilliantly giving you a sense of both nihilism but also release, the limited edition contains the mad as heck Hunok Csataja and both parts of the brilliant Uncivil War to really bring everything home about just how brilliant CBP are as a band. Great Escape is their darkest record yet it's less about the anger more about disappointment, however there are a lot of joyous moments here hidden, creeping out of the woodwork just trying to make things better overall but you have to listen for them, it's a record that cements Crippled Black Phoenix as one of the most uniquely talented forward thinking bands around. 10/10
Deadwood Lake: Forgotten Hymns (Self Released)
Deadwood Lake bassist/vocalist Bruce Powell continues to honour his late brother through the band. Formed as a way to cope with the grief Deadwood Lake have previously released one EP and an excellent full length both of which we have reviewed in these pages giving them heady scores. So with this new EP the bar is high but the trio of Powell, Tom Warren - drums and vocals and Ryan Wills - guitars, are perfectly capable of living up to expectations.
Loss the track that opens the EP has flurries of riffage full of clean guitar breaks while the vocals move from gruff grunts to raspy cleans though thankfully the lyrics are clearly audible. The songs are technical and shift timings seemingly at will on A New Chapter (Life And Death) one minute a maelstrom of black metal riffs the next more melodic ambient doom textures. There is a sense of catharsis in these records it's trauma being dealt with by playing music that can be both emotional but also intense, bolstered by excellent production and virtuoso performances it's another beautiful record from Deadwood Lake. 8/10
Famyne: Famyne (Self Released)
Have you ever listened to the likes of Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong et al and thought "What this needs is massive doomy sludge riffs?" Yes? Then step this way as the self labelled 'Canterbury Doom' band Famyne have released their debut album and it's a meaty meaty slab of down tuned slow moving heavy metal. Bookended by the two epic tracks Weatherless and Dreamweaver this self titled debut is a strong album, Weatherless is Pentagramesque swirl of thunderous bass from Chris Travers, powerful expressive drumming of Jake Cook and slow deliberate riffs of Martin Emmons and Alex Tolson are capped off with some chanted vocals from Tom Vane bringing some ghostly incantations.
It's a deliberate slow burning start with a sound that continues throughout the debut with the slightly more lively Faustus before the Gothic Slave Ship brings to mind The Doors at their most atmospheric, Ghosts is haunting with a lone violin adding a new dimension. A heavyweight piece of music Famyne is not your normal Sabbath worship it's as disquieting and oppressive as Pentagram or Cathedral proper doom for nihilists. 7/10
Malum Sky: Diatribe (Sliptrick Records)
Cardiff progressive rockers Malum Sky have signed to forward thinking record label Sliptrick who like things a little more progressive and with Malum Sky they've certainly got a band who love a bit of prog. Now we've seen them a fair few times here at the MoM and they do improve with every viewing but many of the places they play cannot do justice to their nuanced pop influenced prog metal. Thick djent grooves drive the raging Year Of The Rat which breaks down into more euphoric at the end, it's a skill that Malum Sky have always had blending the heavy modern prog metal riffs with a radio friendly lyrical lines and melodic vocal lines from Ben who commands the album with his performance on songs like Eyes Above which has the most varied vocal on the record with a mixture of soaring highs, his passionate mids and even some roars.
It's the most progressive track on the album with buzzing electronics bulking out the juicy riffs, the title track meanwhile has the Tool influences we've mentioned before. The themes on this album are that "the whole world are involved in diatribe via the numerous forms of communication available to us today it deals with communication on all levels and the different ways in which information is interoperated and acted upon by society". So a modern prog album with a very current message, keep your ears open and your eyes peeled for Malum Sky as they have come on leaps and bounds since their EP only three years ago, it might be their time. 8/10