"Endtime Ballads" is the motto for crippledblackphoenix.com. However, this website is no longer up to date. The British band has now found their virtual home on crippledblackphoenix.co.uk. "Endtime Ballads" is no longer a slogan there either. However, the 15 tracks on "(Mankind) The Crafty Ape" can still be described as end time ballads. On their fifth album, Crippled Black Phoenix have taken the lead with the Homo sapiens and investigated how this species acts towards itself and the earth: marked by injustice and infamy. Of course, this is not a new topic. And Crippled Black Phoenix aren't a sourpuss overwhelmed by world-weariness. They also see a budding consciousness flowing through the human being. A consciousness of being able to do it better than before. And so "(Mankind) The Crafty Ape", according to the own statement, consists of the usual dosage of sorrow and hope. Even more: The men around guitarist and mastermind Justin Greaves start with themselves: They do it better than before. Not that it's Crippled Black Phoenix that's made it bad for the last five, six years. On the contrary. Their previous albums presented fascinating New Artrock with Walls Of Sound and again and again with direct or indirect Floyd homages. This time it's not fascinating, this time it's grandiose. "All journalists talk to us about Pink Floyd, so we gave them another reason," Greaves explains the opener "Nothing (We Are...)", which with its massive guitar chords of course immediately reminds of the famous "The Wall" intro "In The Flesh? Later there are reminiscences of the bass rhythm of "One Of These Days" and the rhythm guitar in "Run Like Hell". The second track "The Heart Of Every Country" is free of Floyd quotes and yet so close to the Artrock superfathers: The acoustic guitar, the voice samples, the quiet organ and finally the solo reminiscent of Gilmour create this unique atmosphere. Crippled Black Phoenix are even more: sometimes straight rocking, sometimes a little bluesy, sometimes dark booming, sometimes even folky, occasionally with female vocals. But there's one thing they don't imitate these days: they are swinging up to great hymns: "A Letter Concerning Dogheads", "The Brain/Poznan", "Operation Mincemeat" and the concluding "Faced With Complete Failure, Utter Defiance Is The Only Response" are epic tracks full of pathos and unique melodies. That's breathtaking.
Top track: The Brain/Poznan