Hey Post-Rock Fans, Come Check Out Crippled Black Phoenix

Have you ever enjoyed a band so much, that you are overcome with shock upon hearing that nobody else in the Toilet is aware of them? Today I am going to try to sell you on Crippled Black Phoenix, one of the best post-rock bands I’ve discovered upon my travels.

Before we begin this journey, please click play on the following video while you read. This was the first song by the band that I heard, and so I want to engage you all in a similar experiment.

Crippled Black Phoenix is mostly a project of Justin Greaves (Electric Wizard, Iron Monkey) and a group of familiar musicians from other similar bands. They’ve officially been around since 2004 and have had a nebulous lineup over those years. A few weeks ago I posted a question in the Facebook Group, “Have you heard of [them]; and if so, what is your favorite song?” Here are a few of my favorite responses:

  • Boss the Ross: “Never heard of [them]. But I do listen to Incapacitated Grey Canary”
  • TrickleDownTacoRiff: “I dont know the band but I’m here to support your efforts with a figurative shoulder rub!”
  • D. Lee: “I remember really digging that album rec you sent me a few weeks ago.”

So only one person in the group knows of the band’s existence, and it’s because I told him about it. Well I have been enjoying this band quite a bit, as they satisfy the prog-rock and post-rock shaped holes in my heart; therefore I want to share their excellence with you. With a little write-up about each major album – and a big write-up about one of my top 10 albums of all time – perhaps I can make a fan out of you too. Let’s start with…


2007 – A Love of Shared Disasters

I should have started with the next one, because A Love of Shared Disasters interests me not. Parallel to how I feel about Genesis‘s debut LP, the band is different enough in the early years that I don’t care to make it a common listen within my collection. This album does not rock the way future ones do; and conversely when this album tries to be very sad, there’s no intense dread like what would come later. Here is my summary: don’t start with this one, only come to it later on if you find you have become a giant fanatic.


2010 – I, Vigilante

This LP is a good collection of similarly structured songs that doesn’t include much in the way of segue tracks or filler. Each one falls in the 10-minute (+/-) category and does a good job of providing an intro and an outro with some killer music contained within, perfectly embodying the spirit of post-rock with quieter beginnings that lead into more chaotic endings.

We begin with those morose and blues-y riffs that perfectly illustrate how different a beast this album is than its predecessor. Five minutes into the first track “Troublemaker” and the band launches into a fast-paced rock session similar to what Pink Floyd did in “Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Part 2” before returning back to its initial speed. Next is the piano-heavy “We Forgotten Who We Are,” with a unique vocal approach in which the lyrics themselves are delivered one syllable at a time over the drum beat. Immediately following is “Fantastic Justice,” again utilizing the piano in the forefront of the music but also adding a horn section over the hook. This song drips with atmosphere over its smooth swagger and twangy guitar licks; and if society crumbles apart and we are reduced to a wild west-like setting, I want to hear “Fantastic Justice” when I walk into a saloon.

There’s nothing amazingly memorable about the rest: another more quiet song that features a female vocalist and a quirky guitar riff that reminds me of The Cure‘s “Love Song” (although results may vary) and a hidden track that’s way too happy to be serious. I, Vigilante is a very good listen, but in the end it is still just a collection of songs. The whole package isn’t perfect, but there are some serious yet wacky tunes that I really dig.


2012 – [Mankind] The Crafty Ape

I’m just going to tell you right now, this album is a 10 for me, in fact it is probably in my top 25 albums of any genre. I heard about it through someone else’s top 10 lists for 2012 (I’m sorry I can’t remember who or where) and my investigations led me to the song posted at the top, and I instantly fell in love. I’m going to go into further detail with the album because I believe the quality of the material justifies it.

From the get-go, Crippled Black Phoenix instills a trust in the listener. The first song “Nothing (We Are…)” is a 1:25 intro that features an odd mixture of busy instruments, tricking the first-time listener into thinking it’s an overture… but it ends up feeling more like a musical ‘”flexing of the muscles” with its cacophonous nature. It’s over quickly and transitions right into the second song, “The Heart of Every Country” which packs a morose wallop to your feels with its doom-esque pace, post-guitar riffs, and — dare I say it? –leads and solos that invoke the spirit of Dave Gilmour. You may not notice that 10 minutes have passed by the time it’s over, meaning the band has successfully convinced the listener that checking one’s watch is not advisable whilst jamming this album.

Okay so there’s that song, then “Get Down and Live With It” from the beginning of my article, a short keyboard segue, and then track #5 “A Letter Concerning Dogheads” which is the most morose song by the band I’ve ever heard. This feels absolutely sorrowful but still interesting! Next we come to a fascinating song in “The Brain / Poznan”, as it weaves two bizarrely different songs together with an insanely crafty transition, almost impossible for me to describe and therefore I implore you to give it a listen on YouTube.

The whole album drips with quality, there are layers upon layers of instrumentation that only go to help each other in the best way possible. It’s long, but we already talked about having some faith in the band in terms of quantity of art. “Laying Traps” is a tribal, anthemic butt-kicker that makes a person want to “rise up and fight!” (Against what, I know not, but the official video can be seen here). The confident and seductive female vocals heard in “Get Down and Live With It” make a return in another song later on too, which is much appreciated. “A Suggestion (Not A Very Nice One)” is a straight-up cheesy homage to classic rock jam sessions like Pink Floyd might have stumbled upon. The people who enjoy this style of music are going to adore (Mankind) The Crafty Ape, as it is perfect for its genre.


2012 – No Sadness or Farewell [EP]

It’s nigh impossible to follow up a masterpiece, so perhaps releasing an EP, albeit it 45 minutes in length, is a good way to soften any following blow. “How We Rock“s first five minutes sound exactly like something off of I, Vigilante, but then quickly transforms into one of the best post-rock songs ever recorded — heck it could serve as a blueprint benchmark for all future post-rock songs. It demonstrates quite the dynamic pace that starts out slowly and continually builds momentum with slowly metered-out instrumentation. By the song’s climax, church bells can even be heard in the distance! Once again, we as listeners have been provided 12 beautiful minutes that breeze by effortlessly.

Next up is my second favorite Crippled Black Phoenix song, “Hold On (So Goodbye to All of That).” It’s a rather simplistic tune that proves: with the proper melodies, a song will succeed regardless of technical skill. Beware, the chorus may get stuck in your head for days to come. The rest of the EP doesn’t have any standouts unfortunately but none of that matters because the first half — just the two aforementioned tracks — are so good. If the band could benefit from one small improvement, it’s consistent song quality within each album… other than that they have the recipe for success.


2014 – White Light Generator

There’s no point in having an elephant in the room: while this album is good, it is not great (and the general consensus among fans agrees). I don’t know if it’s because they just raised the benchmark a few years prior (although the EP still held up quite well) or if it’s just a small chip in an otherwise solid discography. They make one sizeable mistake immediately with the 2:12 long, tongue-in-cheek, acoustic folk song that ruins any potential momentum the album could have begun with… like the stellar second and third tracks “No! [Part 1]” and “No! [Part 2]” could easily have (as evidenced below):

That one-two punch (and I don’t even know why it was split into two in the first place) sets a goal in quality that just seems to drop from there. It’s never bad, just never that good. There are lots of variations in song structure and tone, but I think most of the scattered portions of songs are too short and aren’t given time to blossom. Having said that, believe me when I praise the embedded songs above, for I could have linked nothing!


2015 – New Dark Age [EP]

Ah-ha! My suspicion that the band were Pink Floyd fans has been 100% confirmed with this release, which includes covers of “Echoes Pt. 1” and “Echoes Pt. 2”. But first we must discuss the first half of the EP (yes, I’m discussing halves of an EP) which starts out with a short tune way more DOOM inspired than we’ve ever heard from the band! Next up is a 14-minute progressive jam session that’s more than likely really good, it’s just difficult to concentrate when knowing — as a listener — about the gloriousness that’s to come. But it is a great, epic track indeed.

Bringing up said Pink Floyd covers, this is probably a good stopping point. If I haven’t talked your ears off already, use them to jam the second half of their “Echoes” cover project (which is only fair since I left you with the first half on my Pink Floyd covers article). Meanwhile, they’re on Bandcamp, Facebook, and The World Wide Web!

I love this band. I have a feeling many of you will too. They are a grower, and there is a lot of material to absorb — which will be intimidating (hell, to them 45 minutes constitutes an EP), especially if post-rock isn’t your thing. Well, post-rock combined with classic rock, psychedelic rock, doom and a little western (or something). So how did I do? Did I make a sale? If not, can you come up with more funny responses?

(Images via Pitchfork, Eroding Winds, Album of the Year, White Dorf Rock, Their Website, and Napalm Records)

Written by:

Published on: April 21, 2016

Filled Under: Discography

Views: 872

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  • Eliza

    I’m surprised I didn’t know them since they are totally my thing. I really dig them.

  • RustyShackleford

    Bless you McNulty! This is pretty cool. Although not SUPER similar, for some reason (I think the vocals) remind me of this band Black Mountain. Not sure if anyone else is into them but this song is quite a doozy would recommend. Sonically I guess pretty different, but for some reason I’m just getting the same vibe so figured I’d share. Yep!


    • CyberneticOrganism

      Yes, cool album. The keyboard player also scored Beyond the Black Rainbow via his solo project Sinoia Caves.

    • Warheart

      I love them, though the new album it’s kinda mediocre, maybe not enough weed in the studio I guess.

  • Joaquin Stick

    I think someone posted a link to one of their Floyd covers a few months back and I really dug that. Listening to the first song now and I think you have made the sale. I’ll listen to all of The Crafty Ape tomorrow for sure.

    • it may well have been my Pink Floyd covers article a month or more ago. i wanted to tell everybody about CBP then, but it took a LONG time to write

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    Jimmy! This was a fantastic read. I can tell you have a lot of passion for this band and I am excited to further my knowledge of them. Your first song link had me hooked within the first two minutes.

  • Mañulti, you’re a treasure in this digital wasteland!

  • hieronymus bossk

    Healthy Red Wyvern >>>

    • Dubs

      You’re stealing my thunder you incorrigible saurid.

      • hieronymus bossk

        Should have gotten here quicker you dillydallying myrmidon.

        • Dubs


          • hieronymus bossk


          • Dubs


          • hieronymus bossk


          • Dubs


          • hieronymus bossk

            FOOD TROUGH-WIPER!

          • Dubs

            Your ancestors died because an asteroid struck Mexico. Lol.

          • México hasn’t been the same since then 🙁

          • hieronymus bossk

            My ancestors hail from a planet you half-monkeys can’t even find in your own galaxy! You scullion! You rampallion! You fustilarian!

          • Dubs

            Get bent in the Deccan Traps, you hoser.

          • hieronymus bossk

            Get culled by our systemic elimination of your species, you peon.

          • sorry/not sorry for creating an irreparable rift between you guise

          • hieronymus bossk

            We’ve done this before on the FB group. It helps us expand our insult lexicons.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            I came for “your mother is a newt and your father smelled of elderberries”, and leaving disappointed.

          • hieronymus bossk

            It’s been done.

          • more beer

            Or Arizona.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Arizona was part of Mexico at that time, wasn’t it? Then again all of this was America (not as in the US) at one time.

          • more beer

            No in reality there were no countries when this happened.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Come to think of it, it was probably all Pangea around that time.

  • Hubert

    Digging this stuff! I have heard the name before but I had not heard them.

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Enjoyed reading this, the passion is obvious.
    I’m liking what I hear for the most part, though I’m not sure if this will hit home in a longer run.
    Lining up The Crafty Ape, and maybe we’ll see.

    • it’s a very large and complex meal to digest. it’s either gonna pique your interest from the start (like it did me) or not. no matter what happens, i appreciate you reading this!


      I, Vigilante is where i would start, then move to The Crafty Ape

  • Good stuff Jimmy, I will have to explore further on 4/22 when the wife and kids are asleep and I can get properly tuned up to enjoy it. I only checked the first song you posted, but based on that you should check the new O’ Brother album. I think you’ll find the styles are similar.

    • Joaquin Stick

      I am fairly sure I saw them open for The Dear Hunter once, but didn’t know who they were at the time so it didn’t really stick with me.

      PSA: Get familiar with all bands on the lineup so you know how well you should pay attention.

      • I keep hearing that they put on one hell of a live show. Supposedly they change up the songs for the live experience which is something I’ve always enjoyed seeing bands do.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        Haven’t heard Dear Hunter in quite a while. Wasn’t my cup of tea, but then again I was super busy packing for my move and had to get it back to the library before I left (because, credit and shit). So, really didn’t get a chance to sit and give them a proper listen.

        • Joaquin Stick

          I am a fan of everything they do, but if you stick to the “Acts” albums, you’re going to have a good time. They are probably my favorite non-metal band. Stocky and I co-wrote a Porcelain Throne article awhile back.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            I think that might have been the one I got from the library, but not sure. I’ll give it a spin sometime this weekend.

    • i think you made a sale with this song. it’s very similar in mood and pace to CBP (maybe just a bit more uplifting tho)

      • Start with this album (their latest), it’s a good introduction to the band. The two albums that precede this one may be more in the area of CBP. A discography is always a lot to digest so I was try to do one album at a time.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Great read Jimmy, your passion is inspiring. And this is some triffic sounding stuff. Just my cup of rock tea.

  • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

    My to do list:
    1. Look up post rock definition.
    2. Listen to Crippled Black Phoenix
    3. Send some love to Jimmy Mac <3

    • couldn’t have done it without that shoulder rub

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff

        ju godeet mang!

    • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

      Eh, if you’ve listened to Sigur Ros or Doves’ first two Cds, there’s a good chunk of post-rock in a nutshell. And Interpol to a certain degree.

      • TrickleDownOvTacoKvltRiff


  • Dubs

    I like what I hear, Jimmis.

  • Waynecro

    Thanks for the passionate and informative article, McNults!

  • Elizabeth Short

    Burnt Reynolds is definitely in my top 10 songs ever, but just across the board, this band is phenomenal.

    • currently checking out Burnt Reynolds. i may be a fan, but i’m not yet an aficionado; so thanks for the tip!

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        its a clever drug pun

  • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

    my BFF is a huge CBP fan, so they dont get a whole lot of play except when hes here. great band. gj jeemy

  • Warheart

    I heard good things about the band, but never cared to actually check them out, they’re amazing, I wouldn’t label the band as post-rock, a term I usually despise, this is progressive rock of the highest quality.

    • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

      *post rock of the highest quality

    • i dig it. i think i titled the post long before i delved so deep into their catalog. “morose, progressive rock” might be my go-to label.
      but then they do an upbeat song that pulls a complete 180

    • Guppusmaximus

      I agree. I think that while this band has some Pink Floyd influences, its more of a progressive rock band steeped in the late 80s / early 90s which isn’t a bad thing because bands like Mad Season had a classic / prog rock flair that the “Alternative” hipsters missed (Just like “Ten” was quite the Electric Blues-Rock album). I don’t necessarily hate the term Post Rock – it just doesn’t make sense to me. Like those bands listed under that category are somehow covering ground that no one else has.

      Personally, I love Manes’ vision of Rock, progressive or otherwise. But, I always get drawn towards depressive music

      • Warheart

        Manes is great, they even managed to include rap and get away with it. Have you listened to Lethe? side project of one of these guys, it’s like a mix of Manes with The Gathering.

        • Guppusmaximus

          I’ll have to check them out.

      • Tapir got me into Manes, specifically “Be All, End All” which i love!

        • Guppusmaximus

          My favorite is still their cover of Cinder Alley’s 16Hp. It’s got such a Danzig fused with Depeche Mode vibe. But, yea, Manes is right up there with OSI,imho.



    • is it not a thing of beauty? good construction, good artwork, easy to use, convenient storage. *drools* spectacular transfers on the first two movies (second two aren’t bad by any means)

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Goatdayum, this is excellent, McNutty! Been quite a while since anything on the post rock end of things has tickled my oodles and noodles, but this definitely hit the spot. Sounds like a splendid mix of Doves, Polyphonic Spree, Sigur Ros, and Resplandor. And it’s from the guy from Electric Wizard?!? I’m sold!

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Also reminds me of Delay Trees (took me forever to remember the band’s name):