Bands paying tribute to their personal favourites and influences can easily fall victim of two major traps: either slavishly copying the original out of an overdose of respect or twisting a classic into something beyond recognition and failing to capture the essence of a track.
Crippled Black Phoenix have elegantly avoided such pitfalls as the UK rockers pay homage to great artists and classic songs with all due respect on their previously self-released EP, Horrific Honorifics, while making those tracks their own in sound and spirit without compromising the integrity of the original masterpieces.
Although Crippled Black Phoenix are visiting such a wide range of diverse artists such as Swans, No Means No, and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band for example, all songs are closely bound together by a subtle undercurrent of despair and deep melancholy.
This touch of darkness comes hardly as a surprise, when taking into account that mastermind Justin Greaves has previously gone public about his personal fight against severe depression. Similar dark themes and traits have already been a hallmark of the UK rockers’ latest full-length, Bronze (2016).
Crippled Black Phoenix have always confounded critics trying to pin their style down ever since Justin Greaves recorded his first ideas in 2004 – which earned them tagging attempts ranging from “stoner prog” to “freak folk” to “psychedelic doom”. Despite the wide range of musical leanings within their albums, there are a unifying dark streak and sombre melancholy running through the songs. Founder Greaves had already made himself a name as drummer for Iron Monkey and Electric Wizard among others. When the multi-instrumentalist finally decided to stand on his own musical feet, Crippled Black Phoenix was born as a project. This involves a changing cast of musicians and live set-ups, which mirror the ever-ongoing evolution of the band and the fact that the songs were mostly not composed with their live performance on mind.
Between 2007 and 2014, the band released a string of five critically highly acclaimed studio albums – from A Love of Shared Disasters (2007), via The Resurrectionists (2009), Night Raider (2009), (Mankind) The Crafty Ape (2012), until White Light Generator (2014). This was complemented by EPs I, Vigilante (2010), No Sadness or Farewell (2012), and Oh’ Ech-oes (2015), the live recording Live Poznan (2013), and the 200 Tons of Bad Luck compilation (2009). Their New Dark Age Tour EP 2015 A.D. was the band’s first release on Season of Mist that came with an extensive homage to Pink Floyd. The strong influence of the UK rock giants can still be felt on Bronze, yet while Crippled Black Phoenix never denied their roots, this outstanding act has long created their own sonic cosmos.
Horrific Honorifics will enhance the understanding of Crippled Black Phoenix’ universe as well as expand its dimensions – a beautiful tribute to music.
1. False Spring (Arbouretum)
2. The Golden Boy Swallowed By The Sea (Swans)
3. Will-O-The-Wisp (Magnolia Electric Co)
4. Victory (No Means No)
5. In Bad Dreams (The God Machine)
6. The Faith Healer (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band)