Bronze? That’s surely not the right title, because this album is indubitably a gold medal contender in the album of the year stacks on the evidence of three or four intensive listening sessions held recently in the Sentinel Daily Office.
I’m glad I got that pun out of the way early. But it had to be done. Another thing that needs to be done is to tell you just how marvellous the new Crippled Black Phoenix album actually is; A thrilling melange of Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Steve Hillage influences – not to mention more latterday treats like Pain of Salvation – all driven hard through a filter of more metallic stripe (I’m often thinking about Voi Vod in their more cerebral moments when I listen to this band), Bronze is surely the acme of progressive entertainment in 2016.
After a suitably Jarreing intro (listen to it and realise how funny that comment really is), named, amusingly, Dead Imperial Bastards, the album proper kicks off with the woozily attractive Deviant Burials and doesn’t let up until the final notes of closing track We Are the Darkeners fade into the ether. High points are many, too many to mention, though the the Floydian boogie mayhem that erupts midway through Champions of Disturbance (Pt 1 and 2) is particularly noteworthy; It seems incongruous to say that a man with the sleepy vocal style of Daniel Änghede could light up a track, but his contributions across this track in particular are a real highlight, as he takes the Dave Gilmour template for somnolent contemplation to a new level of confidence and, if not power exactly then certainly conviction… It’s a deeply, comfortingly familiar style, done well and it suits the music here perfectly.
It seems strange now that records like this were ten a penny in the early-to-mid seventies; the progressive tag often stuck to CBP’s releases seemingly belied by the fact that their main influences seem to all be forty years in the past rather than in the here, the now or the future. However the fact that records like this don’t come along very often anymore means that each release by this band is a special event worth celebrating, and when Justin Greaves cranks up the beautiful riff at the start of the excellent Turn to Stone – probably the album’s major high point, if you’re insisting I nominate one – you to will find yourself punching the air with abandon at the giddy, untrammelled beauty of the whole thing. I certainly did. Guest vocalist Arvid Jonsson deserves special mention for his sterling performance on this track.
Winning a Losing Battle revisits Astronomy Domine and fits it out for the twenty first century, and it’s perhaps this track that acts as being the singularly ‘most’ representative of what the band is about at the moment. It’s luxuriant, confident, ambitious, superbly executed and a joy to listen to, and makes the listener incredibly excited to be party to the whole process that Crippled Black Phoenix are involved in.
This is timeless stuff, superbly performed and fully deserves a far wider listening public than the band is currently getting; Let’s hope that Bronze becomes the gold standard by which this bands future works are judged. Sorry…