Crippled Black Phoenix, I know of no way to accurately describe their sounds - both off past albums as well as current ones. Their music is different on each release, but somehow keeping the core 'feel' of CBP all the same. If I had to make a stab at labeling them (as I've attempted before), they are a blend of post-metal, ambient sounds, doom, and folk, into an one-of-a-kind sound.
I put Crippled Black Phoenix's release last year, I, Vigilante, on my 'Top 20 of 2010', a choice I still stand behind. While their earlier albums had a slight problem of uniformity (songs were often jarring in combination with the album as a whole), I, Vigilante was a much more accomplished work. I think this is due to the smaller track-listing off that album then the others, with only six songs while most of their other releases are over ten. This more concise selection, 'trimmed the fat' of their previous releases, with little truly ambient songs and sections then otherwise seen, and it is in this direction I hoped the band would have followed.
However, with their latest, (Mankind) The Crafty Ape, Crippled Black Phoenix seems to run in both directions; with several well crafted and controlled songs, paired up with a number of scene-setting, ambient songs to break up the album. While this style has it's ups and downs, for this album it works pretty well. This album is their longest one to date - two discs at a hour and a half of playing time - and the blending of styles contributes to the overall acceptance of sound. I'm not going to lie and say I wouldn't like some more 'active' songs, less on the ambient and more in the more traditional sense of music, but I don't find myself bored part way either, which is a step up from some other ambient music I've heard.
Comparing the Crippled Black Phoenix's discography, I would have rank I, Vigilante above (Mankind) The Crafty Ape, but these two releases are still far ahead of the rest of the group's albums. It is just more together in form and function then any of their older albums, but loses some of the control that 2010's album gave them. The true 'songs' are very good, and the ambient bits do a good job splitting up the discs, but I'll always be more partial to more traditional assembled music. I still like this band, and love the creativity of which they release each year. I can't wait for the follow-up!