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Black Crown Initiate - "Song of the Crippled Bull" (CD/EP)

Black Crown Initiate - "Song of the Crippled Bull" CD/EP cover image

"Song of the Crippled Bull" track listing:

1. Stench of the Iron Age (7:14)
2. Ghosts She Sends (6:27)
3. The Mountain Top (3:17)
4. Song of the Crippled Bull (4:47)

Reviewed by on October 4, 2013

"'Song of The Crippled Bull' is fantastic on almost every level, and the major complaint is that it’s a giant tease for their debut LP."

When a band releases their first EP, it’s usually a way to introduce the masses to their sound without throwing all their tricks out at once. That’s for the eventual full-length, where the format allows the band to further explore the sonic bullet points of their EP. Black Crown Initiate could have done it that way with their four-song “Song of the Crippled Bull,” but they don’t take a short cut with their progressive death metal. The EP, which is best heard as a singular piece of music, is a stellar beginning in getting their unpredictable blend of metal across.

Progressive death metal can mean many things, depending on the band being discussed, but to Black Crown Initiate, it means influences across the metal spectrum. There’s glimpses of the chaotic side of Cattle Decapitation during the closing moments of “The Mountain Top” and the techy grooves of a band like Meshuggah during “Ghosts She Sends.” This EP isn’t just a collection of band clippings all pasted together, but a connecting stream of consciousness that shouldn’t be broken apart. Each song works off the previous or next one, and sonic themes are brought back several times, especially to link songs like “Stench of the Iron Age” and the title track.

The first half of the EP has the more expansive material, with both songs easily passing the six-minute mark. This allows the wonderful melodic vocals and shifts in tempos to flow more freely, and it’s tough to pick out just one highlight from each song. The latter part is much more compact, but that doesn’t mean it’s more traditional death metal. “The Mountain Top” pops in enough content to fit a song twice its length, and the majestic guitar solo near the middle of the title track wraps the EP up with a grandiose finish.

“Song of The Crippled Bull” is fantastic on almost every level, and the major complaint is that it’s a giant tease for their debut LP. Black Crown Initiate is not some typical death metal band using a few signature time changes in random spots, but a group that doesn’t conform to any specific style. Their music bounces around without being obtuse or schizophrenic, and it’s to the credit of the musicians involved that the EP is that way. Self-released material can be a mixed bag, but “Song of the Crippled Bull” is as vital as any of the major-league death metal releases of 2013.

Highs: Dynamic progressive death metal, band jumps across different styles without it sounding awkward, not a dull moment to be found

Lows: Those used to listening to songs individually won't get the full effect of the EP

Bottom line: “Song of the Crippled Bull” puts Black Crown Initiate in the best light possible with its superb progressive death metal.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)