Black Crown Initiate
Selves We Cannot Forgive
Black Crown Initiate have some guts. After releasing one of the best EPs in recent memory and following it up with an excellent full-length, the smart move would have been to keep on keepin’ on. Their brand of Gojira meets Opeth-ian metal showcased astounding riffs, towering melodies, and an impressive songwriting dexterity to make everything flow. Their sound allowed some breathing room, but it typically was only to make the heavier sections hit even harder. So instead of treating along the same path, Black Crown Initiate decided to take a bit of a left turn, risking a sophomore slump in the process.
So how does Selves We Cannot Forgive fare? I’m going to level with you a little bit because this is one of those rare times where words are difficult to come by. There are so many moments on this album that are not only the band’s best yet (“Again” and “Belie The Machine” immediately come to mind), but they’re also some of the most perfect modern prog metal songs you’re likely to hear this year. The band have clearly reined in their extreme metal influences in lieu of more Tool or Intronaut-like sprawling, pensive progressive metal. This mostly works, especially in tandem with the themes of the record. Selves We Cannot Forgive, which is a very dark and contemplative album. Instead of using rapid-fire riffing to drive the groove, the band are using the aforementioned bands’ template of rhythmic groove. This sonic shift mostly works, and even when it doesn’t (the title track, for example), it’s captivating and melodic enough to still be effective. It also makes the straight-out rippers like “Transmit to Disconnect” and “For Red Cloud” feel even heavier by contrast, increasing the band’s already impressive dynamic range.
The biggest black mark is the utterly underwhelming closer “Vicious Lives”, which feels like it’s supposed to build up to something and never quite does. Otherwise, Black Crown Initiate have done it again, tweaking their sound to truly astounding effect. By doubling down on their prog roots, it makes the songs feel more powerful and lasting. These aren’t runaway freight trains packed with riffs; they’re American muscle cars able to handle whatever the road takes them.