From thumping tubs with aggro-doom legends Iron Monkey to skipping nimbly across an unfathomably diverse range of stylistic shades here, Justin Greaves’ musical journey has been a low-key but fascinating one. As you would expect from any band signed to Geoff Barrow of Portishead’s label, Crippled Black Phoenix revel in the bewildering, bewitching possibilities of the other, harnessing the essence of prog without depending on any of its more familiar sonorities.
As a result, 200 Tons Of Bad Luck is quite unlike anything else out there. A dark and exploratory rock record at its chaotic core, it veers from rumbling psych (Rise Up And Fight) to lurching Beck meets- Mudhoney menace (444) to austere, folksy hymnal (Wendigo) without ever losing its strong overall identity and perfectly-paced momentum.
A well-populated and shrewdly rotated line-up of musicians enables Greaves to cherry-pick from a bountiful array of moods, but the red line that joins the Floydian piano elegy of Burnt Reynolds to the shimmering crescendos of the closing I Am Free, Today I Perished runs right through a singular heart of darkness that beats quietly and calmly in mortality’s shadow. In true prog tradition, there’s a whole world of strange sound to be explored here.