Crippled Black Phoenix – 200 Tons of Bad Luck

Right now, more than ever, ‘200 Tons of Bad Luck’ would appear the most self-indulgent of albums. Pushing together two records – ‘The Resurrectionists’ and ‘Night Rider’ – in to this one 70 minute marathon of ambient guitars, crippling darkness, chanting and mind bending samples, these Bristolians are certainly unconventional and definitely not for the radio.

In the spirit of Leeds’ Vessels, the Castanets and a snarling Neil Young these songs are guitar led epics that unwind so slowly that at times they almost come to a stop. ‘Rise up and Fight’ is perhaps the most conventional track with hard edged, metronomic guitar and bass underpinning fraught vocals and soaring guitars. That is sandwiched by the cinematic ‘Burnt Reynolds’ and ‘Time of Ye Life’, the latter of which begins with an Evil Kneival self-help voice over that captivates with its stark echoes, somehow sad motivational words and downhearted guitars, which add to the lonely, desperate feel. You have fifteen minutes to contemplate his words as this triple suite track pans out to an eventual frenetic finish.

On a recording that took over a year to lay down this project is the blackest of comedy and as lead songwriter Justin Greaves says “Death is close behind me and I hate it. This album is about fighting back, celebrating the things that have saved your life, shouting about the injustices and laughing at how shit everything is. And a bit more about dying.” Summing up this endless struggle between hope and despair ‘I Am Free, Today I Perish’ wraps up their experimental second project with a quivering piano led instrumental that saws at your heart with sonic guitars and arresting tranquility.

When there is so much trash released in to the musical atmosphere it is impossible to condemn such a passionate and ultimately beautiful monument to life, love and inescapable death.

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