Black Crown Initiate, ‘Selves We Cannot Forgive’
Release Date: Out Now
Review By: Rod Whitfield
Plotting a course that is all their own, Pennsylvanian quintet Black Crown Initiate have fulfilled the potential, hinted at on their previous two releases, a thousandfold on ‘Selves We Cannot Forgive‘. The ‘difficult third album’ syndrome has turned out to be a mighty triumph for this adventurous heavy act.
This is a progressive death metal album, in every sense of every one of those descriptors. But it also a lot more than that. This album is a journey across highly varied soundscapes and into the imaginations of five very different songwriting and performance talents.
Their use of loud/soft dynamics is a joy to behold. This band can slam down the brutality with the best of them when they need to, but their tendency to pull back to wonderful, wistful moments of melody and ambience is what makes this album so very interesting. A prime example of this is nine-minute mid-album showstopper Belie the Machine, which starts out in quiet, moody discordance, before exploding into double-bass driven death metal heaviosity. Its clean chorus is as catchy as anything you’ll hear in heavy music this year, and mid-track it changes gear and pulls back to an almost jazzy quiet, atmospheric section with flamenco guitar and a wondrous wandering bassline. It even ends with some sweet, blistering but melodic fretwork.
Following this is the title track, which also veritably drips with moody emotion, piano and acoustic guitar-driven this time.
By beautiful contrast, next track ‘Transmit to Disconnect’ is a brutal death metal smash to the face. Although even this track knows when to pull back to minimalist moodiness.
However, to single a few tracks out detracts from the whole. Each track is powerful, dynamic and timeless, and each has its unique place in the framework of this work of heavy art.
Flying in the face of the age of MP3s and instant gratification, this is an album that must be listened to and experienced in one sitting, from end to end, as was intended. Selves We Cannot Forgive is a landmark heavy album for this band and for 2016, and I can see it showing up on a number of ‘Best Albums’ lists for this year.