A dark and melancholy rock album for deep listeners
Crippled Black Phoenix released their eighth studio album, Ellengæst, on the 9th of this month. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2004, the band currently has the same four members since 2018, while in search of a new vocalist. The new album features multiple guest musicians. Although the band wonderfully and consistently captures dark and melancholy moods in this album, some songs are dry and drawn-out, whether or not that is the band’s intention.
The lead-off track, “House of Fools,” kicks off the album with a foreboding intro. Featuring Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema, the vocal melodies and instrumentals are consistently dark. The overall progression of the song is slow, but it eventually reaches a somewhat satisfying conclusion. The following track, “Lost,” has an eerie vibe throughout. Again, the song’s development is gradual, but it also has a clear ending, with the band opting for a repeating cycle of an upbeat riff and chorus in the track’s final moments.
“In The Night,” featuring Ghaals Wyrd, begins with a heart-wrenching recording of someone expressing the agony that can stem from familial disregard. In the case of the individual in this recording, that disregard ultimately led her to not care about anything other than finding some degree of comfort within. Like the first two songs, this one unfurls slowly, once again ending in a place of strength. The main thing that distinguishes this track from the other two is the guitar solo, which in and of itself is not overly complex or catchy, but fits well into the track.
The next song, “Cry of Love,” features up-and-coming solo artist Suzie Stapleton and Ryan Patterson of Fotocrime. It is a straightforward rock song with upbeat drumming and chord progressions. The guitar’s arpeggios are indispensable, and back the verse beautifully. The verse and chorus are catchy enough to sing along. As a whole, the song actually has sufficient enough momentum to grasp the listener’s attention, and as a result, is probably the best out of this album.
The fifth track, “Everything I Say,” has a weighty feel to it. Although the buildup to the guitar solo and powerful drumming is fulfilling, the recurring four-beat piano passage is too repetitive and therefore the song feels flat, and lacks any coherent direction. The final track, “She’s In Parties,” is a very compact, yet musically substantive song. The groovy bass riff, erratic pick slides and odd sound effects from the keyboard make this another one the album’s standout tracks. The verse on this song is heavier and has more driving force than the chorus, but the chorus counters the heaviness with a darker melody. As a whole, the track feels balanced, and its instrumentation is more interesting than most of the previous tracks.
Most of the songs on Ellengæst are too long and lack variety. This could be due to the band’s style and their decision to compose such songs, but regardless of what made them want to make these stylistic choices, their output on this project is difficult to recommend to a broader range of audiences. The album is great to listen to for those who are looking for a story, a profound message or are willing to take time to digest each song in depth. Honestly, the band has great musicianship and is capable of crafting sonorous tunes, but their songs need a bit more embellishment to compensate for the lengthiness.