The departure of co-vocalist/guitarist Daniel Änghede on the day Crippled Black Phoenix started recording their seventh album could have been a problem. Instead, CBP mastermind Justin Greaves and remaining singer Belinda Kordic called in favours from a range of friends and acquaintances to save the day.
Ellengæst is a triumph of defiance in the face of adversity. Anathema’s Vincent Cavanagh broods solemnly on opening track House Of Fools, which shapeshifts from piano-led atmospherics to billowing crescendos, before stepping back to let Kordic take point on the post-punky Lost. Ex-Wardruna man Gaahl whispers his way through In The Night, while Swedish maverick Jonathan Hultén pitches in on nocturnal 11-minute blow-out The Invisible Past, the album’s musical and emotional high point (the same can’t be said of their karaoke cover of Bauhaus’ She’s In Parties).
The depressive undercurrent that runs beneath much of CBP’s music is very much in evidence here. But magnificent bleakness has always been a key part of the Crippled Black Phoenix playbook, and they’ve rarely been as magnificent as they are here.