A conversation with Black Crown Initiate frontman James Dorton on new album ‘Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape’

Posted by on July 20, 2020


Pennsylvania progressive death metallers Black Crown Initiate are gearing up for their new album, Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape, scheduled to arrive on August 7th via Century Media Records (pre-order here). The follow-up to 2016’s Selves We Cannot Forgive marks the group’s first record with Century Media Records and, arguably, their strongest album to date, a possible contender for one of the best albums of 2020. We caught up with frontman James Dorton to discuss their new album, signing with Century Media, and releasing a record during a pandemic. 


How was the overall signing with Century Media like and how has that impacted the writing process for Violent Portraits of Doomed Escape?

Century Media has been a pleasure to work with from day one. The whole process has been very fluid and harmonious. When we signed with them, the writing process for the record was, for the most part, done. So it wasn’t affected much. But they’ve trusted entirely throughout the creative process, which is certainly nice!


You shared a fun fact about the song “Holy Silence” and how that was written during the very early stages of Black Crown Initiate, why was that song kept hidden for so long and what did you do to enhance it for the album?

That song was written by Nick, Andy as well Ethan, back before BCI was BCI. Since

Ethan was a part of that writing process, and wasn’t able to do the band at the time, it seemed inappropriate to use the song. Now that he’s back, here it is!



The record is powerful and possibly your best works yet, can you talk more about the songs “Invitation” and “Son of War?” I think these two tracks at the beginning definitely sets the tone and mood of the album and captures the attention right away.

Thank you. We definitely carved our hearts out for this one. Each track is a creature unto itself, and these two are no exception. I think “Invitation” is one of my personal favorites. I really endeavored to hurt myself screaming on that one, and really come off as unhinged. “In Son of War,” I sort of do the opposite, and exert a lot of control. I think they’re some of my proudest achievements vocally, these two songs.



Are there any particular tracks that were more challenging to write?

I don’t do much of the writing myself, but it seems to me that the biggest hurdle for writing is getting started. Waiting for the inspiration to hit. These guys have all the tools in their belt for writing music, and they don’t overthink it. So while it is hard work, once it gets going, I have all the confidence in the world in these boys. 


What’s it like releasing a new album during a pandemic?

Challenging! A huge concern for releases are first week sales, which have a lot of impact on the trajectory of a band. Not being able to tour when the record comes out is unfortunate… but then again, I think people are listening to music a lot during this time. And Century is doing a great job promoting the record.


While some states may have concerts, it’s still uncertain when tours and shows will come to life. With that being said, do you have any virtual tours or live streams planned for the record release?

We do not – we don’t live anywhere near each other, any of us, and we’re not the most technologically savvy bunch. So we haven’t made any digital performances happen, nor do we currently have plans to. That could very well change though. If this goes on long enough, I’m sure it will.


With everything that’s happening now, is there anything you want to say or add to your fans?

We hope that hearing our new record will help you take heart, as it does us. Dark times can be exciting times, and from such times can come the greatest growth. Be abundantly kind to one another, give each other the benefit of the doubt, put one foot in front of the other, extend those olive branches, strengthen your character. We love you all, and can’t wait to see you out there on the road again someday.




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