Despite another line-up change, Crippled Black Phoenix have conjured their most cohesive and emotionally devastating record here. With vocal contributions from the likes of Gaahl, Tribulation’s Jonathan Hultén and Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh, Ellengæst certainly doesn’t lack class or charisma, but it’s the monstrous, crestfallen beauty of these songs that will cement the album as a clear career high point, albeit among many. It begins with ghostly trumpet, before House Of Fools erupts. A snarling, scabrous prog-folk diatribe, led by Cavanagh and CBP mainstay Belinda Kordic, it has an air of Bad Seeds menace and a chorus to kill for. Lost is all edgy, post-punk rumble, billowing crescendos and shattered illusions; In The Night is a moonlit funeral, with Gaahl and Kordic delivering the last rites; Cry Of Love is a thunderous, none-more-timely plea for humanity. It’s all profoundly heavy and truly mesmerising.
(Image: © Season Of Mist)