Black Crown Initiate – Selves We Cannot Forgive Review

The Band:

  • Andy Thomas – guitars/clean/harsh vocals
  • Nick Shaw – bass guitar
  • James Dorton – harsh vocals
  • Jesse Beahler – drums
  • Wes Hauch – guitars

Track Listing:

  1. For Red Cloud
  2. Sorrowpsalm
  3. Again
  4. Belie the Machine
  5. Selves We Cannot Forgive
  6. Transmit to Disconnect
  7. Matriarch
  8. Vicious Lives

The eagle-eyed of you will have noticed that I crowned this album as the best of 2016. I stand by it. This eight-track monster keeps snarling away at me, forcing me to listen to it time and time again. Selves We Cannot Forgive is brutal, mesmerising and oh so, so spectacular all at the same time.

Selves We Cannot Forgive starts off rather quietly, ‘For Red Cloud’ opens with 15 seconds of tranquility. This is shattered by a dark, twisted high-pitched guitar. You know you’re in for a ride. This album is constantly surprising and incredibly well written. Remember when Opeth would challenge with tracks that combined elements of extreme metal with the likes of jazz? Black Crown Initiate are just as smart, and equally as impressive. How I described the record in my “Top Ten Albums of 2016” post is the easiest to understand:

Black Crown Initiate’s sound is like a veritable who’s who of the extreme metal landscape. It’s scarily brutal, hauntingly melodic and impeccably technical all at once. Their sound may not be the most accessible, but for those in love with the nuances of the metal genre and a penchant for the incredibly brutal, there’s a lot to love about Selves We Cannot Forgive. Black Crown Initiate picked up effortlessly from where Opeth left off when they decided to bury their roots and turned it up to eleven. Selves We Cannot Forgive is honestly one of the best albums I have ever heard. It took me completely by surprise.

While Black Crown Initiate’s sound contains elements from across a whole lot of different genres, including but not limited to, metalcore, death metal and progressive metal, it all flows together magnificently. The amount of differing sounds could be distracting, but it all works together. The whole is far more than the sum of its parts too. Selves We Cannot Forgive is a dark record, but in tracks like ‘Again’ and ‘Selves We Cannot Forgive’, we are treated to less intense, happier outings. Whether the album is spewing hatred into your ears, or taking a moment to unwind, Selves We Cannot Forgive never fails to amaze.

It’s staggering that this is only the band’s second full album. They are all brilliant musicians. To be able to go from sheer brutal force into beautiful tranquility at any notice is awe-inspiring. Selves We Cannot Forgive is so easy to enjoy, despite all of its complexities, and I put some of this down to the masterful vocals. Andy Thomas and James Dorton’s use of harsh and clean vocals is spectacular. Too many times metal bands are held back by a terrible mix of the two styles. Here they fit together perfectly. The spite and anger in the harsh vocals is astounding, whilst the clean vocals slightly higher pitch bring you back to Earth, clawing you out of the fiery pit the band placed you in.


It’s not too often you hear a record with as much about it as Black Crown Initiate’s Selves We Cannot Forgive. It’s terrifyingly destructive, but beautiful and serene. In my opinion this is about as close as you can get to a perfect record. It’s a smorgasbord of all the good about the metal genre and serves as a reminder of what the oft-mocked genre is capable of. It does everything right, and still astounds and amazes whenever I give it a listen.


Selves We Cannot Forgive is astounding – a metal masterpiece.


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