Gloom core trio Johnny The Boy, a side project by members of Crippled Black Phoenix, presents their debut album, »You«, which was just released today, June 9th, 2023 via Season Of Mist.
01. Die Already
03. He Moves
04. Endlessly Senseless
08. Without You
Recorded at Chapel Studios, Lincolnshire, UK and Kapsylen Studio, Stockholm, Sweden.
Mixed by Kurt Ballou at GodCity Studio, Salem MA. USA.
Mastered by Magnus Lindberg at Magnus Lindberg Productions, Stockholm, Sweden.
Artwork by Johnny The Boy.
Courtesy of Season Of Mist:
Johnny The Boy are now streaming their debut album »You«! The album is released on June 9, 2023 via Season of Mist.
Formed by current and former members of Crippled Black Phoenix, Johnny The Boy have emerged with a vile yet heartfelt spike of black metal. »You« opens with »Die Already«, a gloomy surge of industrial rock that’s pierced by the pissed-off shrieks of Belinda Kordic.
Personal note from Johnny The Boy: “We are Johnny The Boy. Here’s our debut album »You«. No fancy trickery or bluff was used on making this album. It features Neanderthal riffs and Necro vocals. We play music we wanna play and sing about stuff we need to say.”
Johnny The Boy has done it again.
Sometimes the best ideas come from spontaneity. Sometimes they come from gut instinct. When both happen simultaneously, anything is possible, unimaginable horrors included.
Born from a simple idea, and eventually coalescing over the last couple of years into a fully-formed entity, Johnny The Boy make music that fucking hurts. Armed with a scabrous but sculpted blend of ice-cold black metal, excoriating sludge and sinewy, white-knuckle rock’n’roll, the trio’s musical identity has arrived, perfectly imperfect and ready to eviscerate. Formed around a creative core of vocalist Belinda Kordic, guitarist Justin Greaves (both members of Crippled Black Phoenix) and bassist Matt Crawford (CBP alumnus and live bassist), Johnny The Boy began life as an instinctive grab for something darker and nastier.
Photo by Sonja Schuringa
“It began at a rehearsal with CBP many, many years ago,” says Greaves. “We were rehearsing down at Arthur’s, where CBP used to practice, and it was during one of those rehearsals that I just got on the guitar, someone else got on the drums and we were just fart-arsing about, with Belinda doing her necro vocals! Then we posted a little clip online and people starting asking, ‘Oh, is this legit?’ Like always, it took fucking years to even think about doing anything, but it was always going to happen.”
“In the background, there’s the fact that in the first band I was ever in, I sang that way,” adds Kordic. “I really missed doing that. We both missed that whole Iron Monkey, Varukers, aggressive side of music. That’s the first way of singing that I loved, and I’ve missed doing it. So we always wanted to do this.”
Brought together by a love of dark, twisted and extreme music and energised by an opportunity to return to the full-bore hostilities of their earlier creative years, Johnny The Boy‘s debut album »You« is the final proof that the best ideas cannot be stopped. A collaborative effort that brought the evil best out of everyone involved, it’s an album that has been stewed in real blood, sweat and tears. But mainly sweat.
“Justin starting working for me at a venue in our hometown, and there was a mention of doing something called World War,” says Crawford. “We went to our rehearsal room for two days. It was the hottest, most uncomfortable sweatiest room ever, and we were trying to write the coldest, bleakest music you could imagine! So it was horrific, but I think we got five tracks out of those two days. Me and Justin were together in Scunthorpe, and Belinda was working remotely in Sweden, and that was before it was cool!”
One of the songs from that initial batch of Johnny The Boy material was »No Regrets«: a caustic blast of blackened fury that was mischievously planted at the very end of Crippled Black Phoenix’s acclaimed 2022 full-length »Banefyre«, almost as a clandestine warning of the darkness to come.
“That was Justin’s idea. When we recorded »Banefyre«, he said, ‘Why not sneak in and record a Johnny The Boy track?’,” says Kordic. “We did that and »No Regrets« went on the album, and then Michael at Season Of Mist said he wanted a whole album from us.”
“Yeah, »No Regrets« played two roles at the same time,” says Greaves. “It was something pretty outlandish at the end of a CBP album, to give everyone a a kick in the bollocks, but it was also our way of saying, ‘We do this other thing, by the way!’”
Not just another “thing”, but an entirely box-fresh (but intrinsically rotten) means of expression, Johnny The Boy conjure a claustrophobic cyclone of serrated-edge riffs and bilious crescendos. Like the outer reaches of the Melvins’ back catalogue pumped backwards through a frosty, Bathory-fuelled prism, with marauding D-beats and moments of oppressive melancholy hurled in for extra impact, »You« offers a mesmerising blend of the familiar and the unknowable. From the imperious, doomy mantras of »Endlessly Senseless« to the all-out blitzkrieg of »Wired«, Johnny The Boy’s warped vision is heavy in every sense.
Meanwhile, bursting out from the abrasive, treacly maelstrom of riffs at all manner of bone-snapping angles, Belinda Kordic’s extraordinary screams and howls elevate every song to a higher level of primitive intensity.
“I truly think that Belinda’s vocals are some of the most more visceral, vicious and spiteful I’ve ever heard,” says Greaves. “I love the opening song, »Die Already«, it’s just a horrible song. I just love when Belinda’s singing ‘You prick!’ or whatever it is. She’s just spitting venom.”
“It’s all Belinda too,” adds Crawford. “It’s all natural. There’s no studio trickery!”
“When I was recording the vocals in Sweden, at the same studio where we recorded most of the vocals for »Banefyre«, the engineer asked me ‘Why do you sing like that?’” Kordic recalls. “I just said, ‘It’s instead of crying!’ That’s what I do. I let it out that way.”
In keeping with the rapacious, hateful noise that Johnny The Boy whip up, Kordic’s lyrics are also notable for their direct and destructive rhetoric. A collection of incensed diatribes, everything from the demagogue-baiting »Die Already« to the poetic grief of closer »Without You« resounds with gruelling emotional clarity. Eschewing the usual underground metal cliches in favour of harrowing, real world concerns, Johnny The Boy are lunging straight for humanity’s jugular (with a little feline representation thrown in for balance).
“The songs all have different meanings,” Kordic explains. “»Die Already« is about dictators. »Crossings« is about how no one should have to die alone. The last song (»Without You«) is about Tigger, our cat. »Wired« is about being really neurotic. Druh is about Witold Pilecki who was in the Polish resistance in the Second World War. He got caught on purpose, so that he could get into the concentration camp, so see how the prisoners were being treated. There he discovered what was going on with the Jews, the gypsies, the disabled, and he tried to tell the world. He was a real fucking hero.”
Fuelled by decades of devotion to the infernal musical arts, Johnny The Boy bring something unique and undeniable to the table. »You« screams its defiance and vitality from first to last, while a sense that Greaves, Kordic and Crawford are sharing an act of profound catharsis with the world is unmistakable. Soon, the band will expand into a full live unit, in order to inflict »You«’s brutal conflagration on the masses and in the flesh. Most importantly, »You« burns with a ferocity that simply can’t be faked. Equal parts magick, malice and metal therapy Johnny The Boy ignores the rules and burns the fucking house down.
“This is totally new and it’s exciting,” concludes Greaves. “Everything’s an experiment at this point. But we’re doing it because we needed to rediscover the reason why we all make music in the first place. After a long time in the industry, we’re all very jaded and cynical, but now I can’t wait for the first gigs and seeing all the metalheads’ faces when Belinda comes out and starts screaming. This is going to be fucking great.”
Written by: Dom Lawson
Belinda Kordic – Vocals
Justin Greaves – Guitars & Drums
Matt Crawford – Bass
For fans of Crippled Black Phoenix, Sabbath Assembly, Crowbar, Iron Monkey, Swans.