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cripledblackphoenix ellengaest
Artist: Crippled Black Phoenix
Title: Ellengaest
Genre: Dark Rock
Release Date: 9th October 2020
Label: Season Of Mist

Album Review

There’s something hugely reassuring about the UK’s CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX, as their formula of no-formula continues to propel them onwards, skilfully avoiding the concrete boots of indecision or wibble that must be the fate of many a no-formula band. Their revolving door policy of membership, including a fluidity of vocalists (is that like a murder of crows?), keeps things perky and edgy, as does their refusal to sit neatly in any one genre, and for new release ‘Ellengaest’, the band find themselves in fine form and fighting fit.

Do not be fooled by the opening seconds of lonesome brass, as this quickly shatters in a blast of noise until, out of the smoke, swaggers the rest of the song. It’s deliciously Spaghetti Western in mood, a slow-ride through a dusty frontier town, crumbling saloon bars and a Sheriff’s office riddled with bullet-holes. This is like an updated version of what FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM were trying to do back in 1987 but with better vocals and less hysteria. And just wait for that piano to trickle in, and the song to reboot as some mournful military parade that ends dramatically in a melee. Wonderful stuff.

It hardly feels like the same album by the time you reach closing song ‘She’s in Parties’, the second band to tackle the BAUHAUS classic this year (and I must confess to preferring the IN ISOLATION version). Female vocals work well tackling Peter Murphy’s distinct singing style, and this is a faithful enough rendition, although it doesn’t bring anything new to the party. It’s perhaps a touch darker, and there’s that spooky oddness running through it that makes the song such an enigma in the first place.

What is constantly apparent is the easy eccentricity on offer throughout ‘Ellengaest’, that makes it a real joy to listen to. ‘Lost’ stomps confidently by on washes of guitar and seductive vocals, before finally melting into a big, bold and beautiful chorus. Like much here, there’s a sense of claustrophobia that quickly explodes into widescreen, the feeling that everything can be epic as and when the band choose to make it so. That’s quite a skill it has to be said. ‘In The Night’ will send chills across the skin in ripples, its haunting construction and use of space masterful, and like much on this album, time is given for the gradual unravelling of the song’s narrative and ultimate conclusion.

‘Cry Of Love’ is almost a pop song in comparison at only just over 5 minutes in length, and it’s taut and tight and wound like a rusty clockwork toy, but with moments of lightness that seem to spring from nowhere. On ‘Everything I Say’ we are back in the saloon, fearfully peering through cloudy whisky glasses at some unfolding drama, while the piano-player continues to perform with abandon, ‘(-)’ gives us a brief discourse on depression, hopelessness and hell itself - and why not indeed? - and with ‘The Invisible Past’ you’ve got over 11 minutes to settle into a masterclass in dynamics. By the end, it’s like you’ve seen the light, entered the church, joined the choir, and come out as the soloist.

Loathed as I am to give 9 / 10 to any album, this is one such rare, deserving release. It is stunning in its scope, and magnificent in execution, CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX being absolutely at the vanguard of how to write and produce music that is both frighteningly relevant, and wholly timeless. A future classic.


01. House Of Fools
02. Lost
03. In The Night
04. Cry Of Love
05. Everything I Say
06. (-)
07. The Invisible Past
08. She’s In Parties


Justin Greaves – Electric / Acoustic / Bass Guitars / Drums / Saw / Keyboards / Banjo / Effects / Samples / Backing Vocals
Belinda Kordic – Vocals / Percussion
Helen Stanley – Piano / Keyboards / Synths / Trumpet / Vocals / Backing Vocals
Andy Taylor – Guitars

Website /

Cover Picture

crippledblackphoenix ellengaest


Music: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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