King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King (1969) [CLASSIC REVIEWS]

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God listened to “In the Court of the Crimson King” and saw that it was good. God divided Progressive Rock from the rest of the music.

I can’t find other words to describe the first hundred percent Progressive Rock album. There are times in life where certain events change one forever, be it a great love, the birth of a child, etc. While my turning point was not as epic as the birth of one’s child, I hold it just as important in this moment in time. That turning point, that great event was listening to “In the Court of the Crimson King” for the first time. Sadly King Crimson (in my humble opinion of course) never released any album that could even be near in quality or imagination to “In The Court of the Crimson King”, but in their defense it was not an easy task.

“21st Century Schizoid Man (Including Mirrors)” is an absolutely frantic song, seems chaotic but it’s perfect, the band expresses a sensation of frustration and anger that is transmitted to the listener, has abrupt changes, complex instrumentation and innovative sound, just what Progressive Rock means, brilliant.

“Talk to the Wind” is precisely the other side of the coin, starts with a soft flute by Ian McDonald and soon melts with Greg Lake’s beautiful voice, seems simple, only a soft ballad, but it’s more than that, mostly because of the way they combine the instruments, in a way that only some jazz virtuoso musicians did before.

“Epitaph” is a darker song with very obscure pessimistic lyrics, Lake’s voice adapts perfectly to Fripp’s guitar and the melancholic mellotron, a very atmospheric style that would be developed later by Gabriel’s Genesis. Some people believe it’s a sad ballad, but really is a very complex track that combines different rhythms and timing, also take note of the percussions which is brilliant.

“Moonchild” is the more jazz oriented track despite it keeps the Symphonic structure, starts calm and mellow with a very defined rhythm and an a unique guitar work, in the first listen you can get the impression that we are before another tune in the vein of “I Talk to the Wind”, but around the 3 minutes the fusion begins, nothing so complex and lack of logical structure had been done before, almost as if the band was in a jam session McDonald and Fripp are outstanding in this song.

“In the Court of the Crimson King, including The Return of the Fire Witch and the Dance of the Puppets” is an absolute masterpiece, lyrics are incredibly descriptive and combine perfectly with the music creating the medieval atmosphere, this song has everything, beauty, rhythm, complexity and lots of imagination, words are not capable of describing it, the perfect closer for a perfect album.

The great achievement of King Crimson is that in their debut release they managed to create an album that has 5 absolutely different songs that show 5 different aspects of prog rock: aggression, calm, darkness, fusion and the “closer” that blends all this aspects and more in a 9:22 minutes track.

Many bands released progressive or semi-progressive albums before, some of them are outstanding, but no other work can define the genre and set the status so high as” In the Court of the Crimson King”, the path is ready for other bands to follow, but what a job to reach the level of this masterpiece.

Whenever there is a discussion about Progressive Rock, people start mentioning bands like Pink Floyd, or even The Doors sometimes. I’ve seldom heard people talking about the great Crimson. A shame really.This whole album is an emotional roller coaster. It goes from frustrated, crazy, and angry to content and happy, from happy, to tormented and sad, and from that, to dreams and awe. This album has everything you need to make this a good album. You have all of the base human emotions, good music composition, talented musicians, and creative lyrics and structure. Forget Progressive Rock, if you like music in general… just, just listen to this.

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Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum (2013)

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UK Death Metallers, Grave Miasma have gained a very good reputation in the Death Metal underground over the years with their dense, atmospheric style of compositions, which is quite clearly influenced by New York Death Metal bands such as Incantation and Morpheus Descends. Yet, they manage to stand apart rather than being an obvious, uninspired clone. Formed in 2002 as Goat Molestor, they have kept their sound and style completely intact, but with the progression of time, their songwriting has definitely matured.

Their debut album, Odori Sepulcrorum, is the result of all the experience and skill they have gained over the years with their two EPs and constant touring with other bands of a high caliber. The composition style is signature Grave Miasma with non-muted tremolo riffs and heavy, doomy passages. This time, however, it is done with a much more logical progression and arranged into interesting song structures, contrary to a lot of their older compositions, which consisted of few riffs played over the entire song length and lacked some of the dynamics that this album has. Although their older formula worked wonders due to their immensely powerful atmosphere, the compositions here are far more gripping, making it a compelling listen throughout its playing time. All instruments are drenched in an ideal amount of reverb, bestowing a cryptic atmosphere upon them. Although other bands in the vein of Grave Miasma also focus in creating a dark and menacing atmosphere, they don’t quite do it the same way. Their focus is merely on obtaining the sound on an amplifier and putting it through the right effects in the studio. On the other hand, Grave Miasma realizes the importance of composition and execution to evoke a feeling of evil, keeping the effects a strictly secondary (yet important) part of the equation. I doubt that any random combination of notes, combined with the right effects creates the same feeling as carefully crafted songs.

Songwriting and music aside, the band also realizes the importance of aesthetics in Death Metal. The artwork and lyrics are in perfect resonance with each other and with the music. The lyrics deal with various occult practices and spiritual awakening. Reading the lyrics sheet while listening to the music adds to the overall atmosphere of the album – another indicator of how well-done this album is. Odori Sepulcrorum is my favourite Death Metal album of 2013, only second to Colored Sands (Gorguts). Now, to wait for the new Dead Congregation (whenever it comes out).

 

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– Rohit Chaoji