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Crippled Black Phoenix - I, Vigilante CD (album) cover


Crippled Black Phoenix


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.64 | 107 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'I, Vigilante' - Crippled Black Phoenix (6/10)

At first impression coming off as a Pink Floyd tribute circa 'Wish You Were Here,' it wasn't long before Crippled Black Phoenix's third studio album 'I, Vigilante' showed a much wider range than what I expected at the start of my first listen. In a year blessed by a handful of astounding surprises, this melancholic rock group has created an album that begs for repeated listening, but despite some moments of real beauty and force here, there's the unsettling feeling throughout that despite all efforts, the album's great sense of promise is never completely realized.

While the opening guitar solo of 'Troublemaker' could have easily been pitched out of David Gilmour's songbook, Crippled Black Phoenix soon develops their sound to incorporate a great deal many more influences and sounds, although the sharpest resemblance to another band's style would be akin to Sigur Ros, with a melancholic, brooding and minimalistic post-rock approach being used for the most part of 'I, Vigilante'. On top of the Floydian themes being overtly used in the opener, 'Troublemaker' quickly works it's way into being a bluesy stoner rock number that surely echoes the band's association with Electric Wizard. While the song's slower groove feels like it drags on for too long, it is a promising entrance into 'I, Vigilante,' and it's straightforward, rocking nature is then starkly contrasted with the more subtle, delicate tendencies of 'We Forgotten Who We Are', a piece that when coupled with the third part 'Fantastic Justice' (which it segues seamlessly into), makes a nearly twenty minute long post-rock epic. These two songs share musical ideas and a similar, mostly instrumental approach that arguably works out to be the album's cornerstone experience. A minimalistic, gradually building and very introspective style works wonders after twenty minutes, and by the time it's over, some of the musical ideas- particularly those involving piano- may feel as if they were drawn out a bit beyond their welcome, but the effect of it is still beautiful and as good as any other post-rock released the same year. 'Bastogne Blues' is next, feeling like an old western film soundtrack bathed in the post-rock treatment, and gently driven by the quiet vocals of Joe Volk. The cello work works perfectly over the gated electric guitar, providing a perfect spiritual closer to the main body of the album.

Of course, there have been two tracks yet on 'I, Vigilante' that are yet unaccounted for. This is where the album begins to lose a great deal of it's magic, in no small part due to the fact that for the album's closer and reprisal (bonus track), Crippled Black Phoenix opts for a pair of covers. The first is a Journey cover of 'Of A Lifetime', which while it is performed quite well, it feels shallow compared to the lush work in the previous four tracks. An all-too repetitive central riff and some iffy female singing makes it a pretty poor note to leave the album on.

While 'I, Vigilante' shows a world of promise in some of it's stronger sections, the album's weaknesses rob it of being a completely satisfying release. However, had the two final tracks been replaced with even just a single extra original track, 'I, Vigilante' would certainly be an album to stand out above it's peers.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |


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