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


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.93 | 1805 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A raw and metallic precursor to the same year's superb 'Red' album, 1974's 'Starless & Bible Black' would find King Crimson exhibiting a singularly nihilistic and darkly-wrought sonic streak ever at odds with the flowery symphonic music produced by many of their fellow progressive acts, explaining just why they are one of the few such acts to be accepted outside of prog-rock circles. With maybe only Van Der Graaf Generator coming close to replicating the trademark daunting atmospherics and challenging musical ideology of Crimson's best work, it's safe to say that the group formed by Robert Fripp back in the late sixties can be claimed as perhaps the purest evocation of the much-maligned genre, each of their original eight studio albums from between 1969 and 1974 characterized by it's own individual stylistic themes. Coming at the end of their initial phase of activity, 'Starless & Bible Black' is often, if not always, overshadowed by it's successor, an album that alongside 1969's debut 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' is regarded as one of their true classics and therefore one of the progressive rock genre's outstanding achievements. Therefore it is virtually impossible to discuss this album outside of the context of 'Red', the two entwined both in their conception and execution. 'Red', of course, is the superior album, yet 'Starless & Bible Black' also has it's merits, though in the grand scheme of all things King Crimson this is not a 'classic' release. It is, however, a significant one, laying a fresh heavy rock foundation so very different from the material produced by their contemporaries, such as the hopeful, fantasy-flecked musings of Yes or the cosmic soundscapes of Pink Floyd. Tracks such as 'the Mincer' are burnished with an ominous tone, Fripp's cutting and deliberately-discordant guitars creating a swirling, proto-metal effect several years ahead of it's time, whilst the album's closing pieces - the title-track and the lengthy 'Fracture' - also mine a similarly dark sonic pathway to impressive if sometimes overly-aggressive effect. Very much a dry run for 'Red', this is a stark, grinding and relentlessly metallic affair so untypical of both the group and the genre. It's not an altogether pleasant listen, the grimly fascinating moments of dissonant feedback and experimental curiosity almost deliberate in their attempts to confront the listener, yet this is also (another) highly-original statement from a group whose musical explorations never seem sated. Recommended then, but beware: this album bites.


stefro | 3/5 |


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