Crippled Lucifer (Reissue)
posted on 2/2008 By:
I’m a huge fan of the works of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson. Sunn O))) is one of my favorite bands (when the mood strikes, of course), and the multitude of other projects these guys busy themselves with rarely fail to impress. I’ve long heard of the greatness of Burning Witch, a doom project primarily the work of O’Malley (as Anderson quit the project in its infancy), and this review is the first time I’ve heard their work. Needless to say, the outfit’s blend of extreme sludge with traditional doom is a brilliant match, and while this album may leave you exhausted with its snail pace and huge running time (over an hour-and-a-half), I can safely say that this is an excellent release that will provide lots of enjoyment for those patient enough for its unforgiving nature.
It's worth noting that Crippled Lucifer is actually a two-disc re-release of two EP’s rather than the outfit‘s sole full-length of the same name, those EP’s being Towers and Rift.Canyon.Dreams. These two works sound right at home with each other in terms of sound, with few things really distinguishing them from one another in that regard (I will say that Towers is slightly more riff oriented and not quite as sluggish at times). In addition to the original four songs found on each of these releases, this edition also comes with two lengthy bonus tracks, making for an intensely long and grueling listen. Indeed, I can’t really see myself listening to this record from start to finish that often; its simply too draining, even for this doom/drone fan. In fact, with the piercing vocals and crushing drums, I’d say this is an even more difficult listen than the pure drone of Sunn O))) or early Earth. That’s not to say, however, that the material at hand is not of high quality, as the sound captured here practically epitomizes the more intense side of the doom spectrum.
Burning Witch’s oppressively downbeat, epic compositions were way ahead of their time, and it's obvious what an inspiration this band was for many of the funeral doom acts populating the metal scene today. While the riffs are as huge and menacing as you’d expect, I was surprised to find that what I enjoyed most about Crippled Lucifer were the vocals of Edguy 59, particularly on the Rift.Canyon.Dreams side. Alternating between tortured screams (very reminiscent of Eyehategod and Khanate) and woeful, bleak clean singing, the vocals here convey the emotions of the album about as well as you could ask for in metal vocals. The riff work of O’Malley and bassist G. Stuart Dahlquist is positively titanic, and it's easy to see the progression that would eventually lead the former into bands like Sunn O))) and Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine (the droning feedback noises that accompany the end of “The Country Doctor“ are particularly Sunn-like). Don’t expect any melodic leads or catchy riffs, as the whole package is about as dark and extreme as you can get. Bands like Burning Witch are about the experience of listening, and if this is your first time hearing the project as it was mine, you can expect quite the memorable experience indeed.
I’m not going to go into individual song details; like most of the work from the artists at hand, this is a fairly single-minded release, and if you’re not listening to get your ears destroyed and your good mood repealed, then you’re not listening for the right reasons. Crippled Lucifer is certainly not for everyone, but for fans of the musicians involved or extreme doom in general, this excellent compilation is a no-fucking-brainer. Southern Lord triumphs again, it seems.
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