Keeping progressive rock relevant is seemingly only a goal being reached by the big names in the genre. Many people seem to forget about the smaller scene, but it's there and it's big. Crippled Black Phoenix is at the forefront of it all, their seventh album Bronze developing their force.
Bronze is a peculiar thing. It's nothing more than an alloy; a combination of non-metals and metals. But even so, since its discovery, it has been the pride of humanity as well as the cause of wars. Bronze has all of those principles channeled within it. It's an album that has pride and joy but also features violence and fear.
The Pink Floyd influence is strong on this record. 'Turn To Stone' has a psychedelic guitar running throughout it, ultimately turning into a spiraling ending you'd expect from the likes of Floyd. Intro track 'Dead Imperial Bastard' proceeds ominously, the dark synths providing atmosphere and space. It's enchanting and cinematic, though lacking a certain punch to it. 'Deviant Burials' follow through with lo-fi, busy recordings of a town square as the slow moving beast develops throughout its play time.
The signature track on the record is 'Scared and Alone,' creepy female vocals taking the lead backed by a sweet trumpet. This atmospheric intro eventually builds into a powerful rock n' roll track with a sweet guitar solo ringing with blues flair as the track evolves into its powerful but subtle ending. It leads into the haunting 'Winning A Losing Battle,' scratched with hints of violence and anger, the thick, expansive horns channeling abysmal vibes before growing back into a stronger track.
Final track 'We Are The Darkeners' isn't a perfect ending, nor does it really feel very conclusive, but it does take the album with a bit of crunch. Thick chords challenge the track's ominous vocals as they defeatedly chant. It's a resignation and a sigh of relief at the same time. The battle of the album comes to a close here, but it leaves you feeling like the end hasn't truly come just yet.
Bronze isn't very punchy and usually doesn't have much of a climax amongst its tracks. What it does have is a tale - one of anger, victory, and strife that doesn't really end. Bronze is an average album, yes, but it proves that Crippled Black Phoenix isn't letting go of their strength as a band, and that's what gives the project hope for the future.
Favorite Track: Scared and Alone
Least Favorite Tracks: Champions Of Disturbance (Parts 1 & 2), No Fun, Rotten Memories
Rating: 70 / 100