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King Crimson - Starless And Bible Black CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1646 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars While a good companion album to Red, this is probably the band's weakest release before their breakup in '74.

Essentially a glorified live album, this plays as a preview of what Red would be like. Indeed, it's hard to rate this release without comparing it to Red: having the title of this album come from a song from that release doesn't help. I know that this one came chronologically first of the two, but even still it strikes me more like a release of the songs that didn't make it onto Red. That may not be the case, but it's really how this album feels. The music is aggressive and interesting, with a few exciting songs and a few really strange improvisations. Wetton, though given a prominent role in this album, does not shine in his vocals as he will on their next release or in his days with Asia. I almost gave this album two stars because I did not think it would really appeal to first time listeners, but the truth is, there are some very good tunes on here anyways, even if it is not up to King Crimson's usual standards of quality.

The first side kicks off with the belter The Great Deceiver. This is easily the strongest and most energetic tune on the album, featuring lightning fast guitar and some quirkily fun lyrics. It's got instant hooks and a clever composition. The album moves on, then, with Lament, and interesting song that is unfortunately a bit unmemorable, despite some more aggressive later sections. We'll Let You Know is similar, throwing some neat parts out there but not really giving my ears anything much to stick. Following that is the other really strong song on Starless and Bible Black, namely, The Night Watch. Wetton sounds nice singing over traditional KC mellotrons, and the song sounds vast and impressive. Trio wraps up the first side of the album with a bit of spacey melody, gently plying away with its soft sounds.

Side two kicks off with The Mincer, a more aggressive improvisation, building a dark soundscape before closing it with some nice vocals. The remaining two tracks, namely the title track and Fracture, are both building tunes full of improvisation and haunting sounds from the keyboard and guitars. Though they are both pretty neat, I usually don't find myself interested enough in what they promote to listen to them very regularly. They are enjoyable, but nothing terribly lasting, in my opinion.

When it comes down to it, fans of Red will almost undoubtedly have to buy this. It's not a bad release, just not as clever and deep as the King Crimson they had allowed us to get used to before this. I'd recommending checking out either of the two other Wetton-era albums (Larks' Tongues in Aspic and Red) before this one.

LiquidEternity | 3/5 |


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