Black Crown Initiate

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Black Crown Initiate
OriginReading, Pennsylvania, United States
GenresProgressive death metal
Years active2012–present
LabelseOne, Century Media
WebsiteBlack Crown Initiate on Facebook
MembersJames Dorton
Nick Shaw
Andy Thomas
Ethan McKenna

Black Crown Initiate is an American progressive death metal group from Reading, Pennsylvania, United States, currently signed to Century Media. The band formed in 2012 and self-released their first EP Song of The Crippled Bull, which was met with positive reviews. They began touring relentlessly in early 2014 with fellow extreme metal bands such as Goatwhore, Behemoth, and 1349, and lead to them being signed by eOne Music in June 2014.[1] With eOne, they released both The Wreckage of Stars, released on September 30, 2014, and Selves We Cannot Forgive, released on July 22, 2016. Their third studio album, Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape, was released with Century Media on August 7th, 2020.

When asked about the origins of the name "Black Crown Initiate" in a 2016 Reddit AMA, the band stated:

There is a Tibetan spiritual leader that wears a black crown to signify help for humanity. We are all pervert pigs so we help by showing people that, first about ourselves.[2]


Formed in late 2012, Black Crown Initiate released several demos onto SoundCloud, which lead to the creation of their four track EP titled Song of the Crippled Bull. The EP was recorded with Carson Slovak (August Burns Red, Texas In July) at Atrium Audio and was released on July 17, 2013. The EP quickly became the discussion of many underground metal blogs and publications. Due to the success of the EP, what had initially begun as a small project by guitarist Andy Thomas, vocalist James Dorton and bassist Nick Shaw became a full-time endeavor, and they began to recruit members for live performances. The band played their first live show on October 18, 2013 in their hometown with their longtime friends in the band Rivers of Nihil.[3]

In January 2014 the band posted on their official Facebook page that they would be embarking on the 2014 Metal Alliance Tour supporting 1349, Goatwhore and Behemoth. This was the band's first tour, a rare feat for a band with only one four track EP and having been together for just over a year at the time. After finishing the tour, the band returned to the studio, again with Carson Slovak. On June 19 the band announced through their Facebook page, their signing to eOne Music, and that their full-length debut album would be on its way.

On signing with the label, guitarist Andy Thomas stated: “We started this band with absolutely no clue how far it would take us. It has been an amazing time, as of today, we can honestly say that we are starting a new chapter in our careers; one that will afford us opportunities that we never imagined. We are absolutely honored to be part of the eOne family.”[4]

Later that summer, the band went on tour with Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse, followed by their first tour outside the US into Canada on the Summer Slaughter tour with The Faceless, Fallujah, and Rings of Saturn. The band shot a music video and released the first single off their upcoming album The Wreckage of Stars titled "Withering Waves".[5] The album was officially released on September 30, 2014 and debuted at #18 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.[6]

Black Crown Initiate later appeared at several other festivals such as New England Hardcore Metal Fest, South By So What? and CMJ. In February 2016, the band announced they were back in the studio, again with Carson Slovak, to record their sophomore effort to be released in late spring 2016 through eOne Music.[7] Black Crown Initiate went on tour in March 2016 along with label mates Black Fast. The tour lead them to Austin, Texas, where they performed at the SXSW festival for the first time in their careers.[8] The band is also rumoured to be a part of the Metal Alliance Tour once again this time supporting Dying Fetus, The Acacia Strain and Jungle Rot.[9]

In June 2016, the band announced that long-time guitarist Rik Stelzpflug was departing. He was replaced by former The Faceless guitarist Wes Hauch.[10]

On 11th of December 2018, the band announced on their official Facebook page that drummer Jesse Beahler and guitarist Wes Hauch had departed the band on good terms to be replaced with drummer Samuel Santiago (Gorod, Beyond Creation, Arkhon Infaustus) and guitarist Ethan McKenna who was the first guitarist that founding members Andy, James and Nick originally asked to join the band.[11]








Black Crown Initiate is known for incorporating various elements of heavy metal and extreme music in their sound. There are traces of progressive metal, ambience, doom metal, and post-rock which often gives them comparisons to Opeth, Gojira, Mastodon, Decapitated and Cynic.[24]


Extended Plays
2013 Song of The Crippled Bull
  • Released: July 17, 2013
  • Label: Self-released
2014 The Wreckage of Stars
2016 Selves We Cannot Forgive
2020 Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape


  1. ^ Teitalman, Bram (June 19, 2014). "Black Crown Initiate signs with eOne Music". Metal Insider. Archived from the original on March 8, 2016.
  2. ^ "r/progmetal - Comment by u/blastology on "We are Black Crown initiate! Ask Us Anything!"". Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  3. ^ Whelan, Kez. (2013-10-01). "Black Crown Initiate: Band Of The Day". Terrorizer. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  4. ^ Rowe, Jimmy. (2014-06-20)."Black Crown Initiate Sign To eOne Records". Heavy Blog is Heavy. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  5. ^ (2014-09-29)"Black Crown Initiate Premiere New Song and Music Video, 'Withering Waves'" Archived 2016-03-10 at the Wayback Machine. Revolver Magazine. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  6. ^ "Black Crown Initiate Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  7. ^ (2016-02-02)."BLACK CROWN INITIATE ENTER THE STUDIO; NEW ALBUM DUE IN LATE SPRING". Brave Words. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  8. ^ (2016-01-12)."SXSW announces third round of 2016 artists". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  9. ^ Rosenberg, Axl. (2016-02-25)."Metal Alliance Tour Allegedly Returning with Dying Fetus, The Acacia Strain, and Jungle Rot". Metalsucks. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  10. ^ "Former The Faceless Guitarist Wes Hauch Joins Black Crown Initiate; New Song Released". 8 June 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Black Crown Initiate". Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  12. ^ (2014-01-13). "BEHEMOTH, GOATWHORE, 1349 Set For 'Metal Alliance Tour'". Blabbermouth. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  13. ^ Hartmann, Graham. (2014-05-18)."Septicflesh, Fleshgod Apocalypse + More Team Up for 2014 ‘Conquerors of the World’ Tour". Loudwire. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  14. ^ Rosenberg, Axl. (2014-07-10)."Canadian Summer Slaughter is Just Like American Summer Slaughter, Only Canadianer". Metalsucks. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  15. ^ Pasbani, Robert. (2014-08-11). "RIVERS OF NIHIL, BLACK CROWN INITIATE Announce Reading Rainbow Tour". Metal Injection. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  16. ^ Adams, Gregory. (2014-08-28)."Unearth Team Up with Darkest Hour, Carnifex, Origin for 'Hell or High Wattage Tour'". Exclaim!. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.
  17. ^ "DON'T MISS CROWBAR'S NEW VIDEO FOR 'SYMMETRY IN WHITE'". Noisey. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  18. ^ Gentile, John. (2014-11-04)."Napalm Death / Voivod / Exhumed / Iron Reagan / Black Crown Initiate". Punk News. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  19. ^ Childers, Chad. (2015-06-10). "Metal Alliance Tour Canceled (Sort Of); Deicide to Headline Remaining Shows". Loudwire. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  20. ^ (2015-02-27). "Black Crown Initiate tour (Canada)". Lambgoat. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  21. ^ Adams, Gregory. (2015-08-04). "Cattle Decapitation Announce 'North American Extinction Tour'". Exclaim!. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  22. ^ "Black Crown Initiate And Black Fast Announce ‘Blacker Than All’ Tour". The PRP. Retrieved on 2016-03-04.
  23. ^ Hartmann, Graham. (2016-03-07)."Dying Fetus, The Acacia Strain, Jungle Rot + Black Crown Initiate to Play 2016 Metal Alliance Tour". Loudwire. Retrieved on 2016-03-10.
  24. ^ Lawson, Dom. (2014-10-22)."The debut album from Black Crown Initiate".Team Rock. Retrieved on 2016-03-03.