Crippled Black Phoenix – (Mankind) The Crafty Ape Crippled Black Phoenix – (Mankind) The Crafty Ape

What? Holy shit. Crippled Black Phoenix‘s releases always catch me by surprise. Actually someone should let Wikipedia know these guys have a new album because the band is still stuck in 2010 on their page. Crippled Black Phoenix is a UK post rock band who somehow continues to make post rock interesting despite the entire genre now laying in ruins. The band, however, hangs their heads high with bleak odysseys across scorched landscapes drawing strength from the structures of first wave post rock innovators such as Bark Psychosis and God Speed! You Black Emperor. The result is never a derivative rip off but a hope for the future of a dead genre.

In 2010, Crippled Black Phoenix released I, Vigilante which was the band’s fourth (or third) proper LP. When reviewing this album, I made note of how the band seemed to be embracing a retro rock persona to fill what was once a hallow ghost town. At the time, I thought this was a fleeting fascination but was more than surprised to hear it return in the 2 disc minor opus (Mankind) The Crafty Ape.

Crippled Black Phoenix is not a stranger to long albums. 2009’s the Resurrectionists / Night Raider had the same template with its double disc structure. (Mankind) The Crafty Ape is different as the first disc is significantly longer followed by a short epilogue. From their website, “(Mankind)’s focus is firmly planted in the corruption of mankind and injustice, but also ultimately in the hope that all is not lost, and that there’s a common thread connecting people of like-minds wherever you may travel.” Well it sounds like another sunny picnic at the Crippled Black Farm. Pack a lunch.

The same things which made I, Vigilante so endearing is repeated and improved with equal success. Crippled Black Phoenix’s journey from barren wastelands to populated civilization is marked with experience and craft. The band’s attention to the vintage sound is only exacerbated by an unearthly ability to create drama. I do not know whether or not (Mankind) The Craft Ape is the band’s best album because right now, it is the best thing I’ve ever heard.

Crippled Black Phoenix’s flirting with “classic rock” has fallen into a full fledge affair as slide guitars, powerful reverb and well worn riffs populate the first disc of (Mankind). ” A Letter Concerning Dogheads” opens up the same world Pink Floyd once explored with cavernous space strapped with memorable melodies. The entire album moves through this hyper gradation as every space is soon filled with instruments and undeniable hooks. By the end of the first disc, “Release the Clowns” acts as last call for a crowded bar full of sullen looking patrons. As if Crippled Black Phoenix needed to make (Mankind) more dense…a second disc follows which is wholly different than its predecessor.

The second disc of (Mankind) is actually the third chapter in the story. The first disc breaks chapters right before “Laying Traps” which actually makes a symmetrical 30/15/30 story. The third chapter is entitled “Blues of Man” and begins as its promised with a space driven blues ballad with Justin Greaves howling at the dead moon. Following the change of pace, the “Blues of Man” chapter crawls in the very city which was constructed minutes before echoing the styles explored in past albums. “Faced With Complete Failure, Utter Defiance Is The Only Response” ends the disc with a stellar conclusion which borders on the term “epic.” I hate to use that term as its association with the post rock genre was the very impetus to its destruction but no other adjective seems to work. (Mankind) ends on a note higher than it starts and wraps up a damn fine series of events despite it being unexpected.

I sing the praises of this band as they continue to make interesting and arresting records which in no way cling to conventions and previous achievements. The latent story of conflict, defiance and eventual retribution pulses through album’s rhythms and cadences. The spirit which drives (Mankind) and its creators is the same which fueled an entire genre for nearly a decade. I have given a standing ovation to this band before and I will be the first on my feet again. Bravo ladies and gentleman. Fucking bravo.


Disc 1
Chapter I – A Thread
Nothing (We Are…) (01:25)
The Heart Of Every Country (10:04)
Get Down And Live With It (07:11)
(In The Yonder Marsh) (04:11)
A Letter Concerning Dogheads (06:24)
The Brain \ Poznan (07:37)

Chapter II – The Trap
Laying Traps (04:45)
Born In A Hurricane (03:31)
Release The Clowns (05:23)
(What?) (01:36)

Disc 2
Chapter III – The Blues Of Man
A Suggestion (Not A Very Nice One) (05:54)
(Dig, Bury, Deny) (02:09)
Operation Mincemeat (06:58)
We Will Never Get Out This World Alive (04:13)
Faced With Complete Failure, Utter Defiance Is The Only Response (14:50)

Crippled Black Phoenix - (Mankind) The Crafty Ape, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2012-02-09T04:36:40-08:00 rating 4.1 out of 5

One Response about “Crippled Black Phoenix – (Mankind) The Crafty Ape”

  • noughtysyd says:

    This album, like all their others is special, that’s the only word i could think of using. How they are not giants in their respective field i do not know, even in the wider rock spectrum they should get more recognition. I have seen one or two small articles about them in classic rock but its simply not enough for a band of this talent and innovation. Anybody who needs more convincing than just listening to their music should check their online reviews, you will struggle to find a bad one, keep it coming CBP.