A contemplative study of the mind, the spirit, and the nature of reality itself may seem incongruent with the trappings of heavy metal to the uninitiated casual observer. But those who descend into the darkest subterranean abyss of the art form s most aggressive nihilism, only to soar under protection of a meditative cloak of aural pleasure, are those who may share in the near-supernatural wonder and inward carnal primitivism alike found within the progressive death metal of BLACK CROWN INITIATE.
Selves We Can Not Forgive, the band s sophomore album, is a lean and focused collection that jettisons the extraneous fat found too often within ambitious metal bands, striking a balance between fearless adventurousness and methodical might. It follows their sprawling full-length debut, The Wreckage of Stars, which together with their self-financed Song of the Crippled Bull EP introduced Black Crown Initiate s unapologetic exploration of everything from Friedrich Nietzsche and Greek Sophist Gorgias to Hinduism, Buddhism, and indigenous mysticism, with a pragmatic skepticism.
Like the band s prior material Selves We Can Not Forgive was produced by Black Crown Initiate s longtime collaborator Carson Slovak (August Burns Red, Texas In July, From Ashes To New), whose Atrium Audio studio is nestled in their native Pennsylvania.
The band s keen awareness of the degradation and deterioration of culture powers much of the creative exploration on their new album, whether that decay is seen in art, politics, or anywhere else in society. The album kicks off with For Red Cloud, a straightforward heavy song at a medium tempo with deathly growls and magnificent clean vocals. The lyrics were inspired by the work of Native American author, poet, and activist John Trudell, who passed away toward the end of 2015, and named for Red Cloud, the Sioux resister to the European invasion and occupation of North America.
The multifaceted Belie the Machine is heavy, dramatic and at turns dark and evil, ultimately the longest song Black Crown Initiate has ever composed, with an admonition against the idea that the world s collective future is outside of anyone s control. The album s title track is perhaps the most experimental in the band s already exciting history, integrating piano, cello (as heard on the last album, as well) and multiple clean vocals to dazzling effect. Like Selves We Can Not Forgive, the deeply personal Matriarch explores the influence of childhood events on adulthood. It decries the patriarchy and it takes a stark look at various types of abuse, from the physical to the psychological, and how those mistakes can adversely affect future generations to come.