Monday, 6 October 2014

Black Moth - 'Condemned To Hope' & Live at Leeds Brudenell

This heavy rocking Yorkshire outfit has made some good friends in fairly high places during their relatively short life. Not only have Black Moth managed to secure the studio services of Bad Seed Jim Sclavunos for the second long player in a row, the artwork for Condemned to Hope has been created by none other than Roger Dean, a celebrated artist famous for a string of album covers for the progressive rock dinosaurs Yes, and their assorted band related spin offs.

Firstly, dealing with the look and feel, the bleak cover smacks of a scene from the Western Front as a line of soldiers appear to be trudging wearily up a ridge, eerily reminiscent of a certain part of Ilkley Moor although in this case, the headgear is clearly visible. Sonically, the band’s familiarity with one quarter of Grinderman, also at the mixing desk for their first album ‘The Killing Jar’, means on their sophomore release, they’ve been able to really stretch themselves. You’re immediately grabbed by the short and curlies from the pounding opening riff of ‘Tumbleweave’ a deceptively fleet-of-foot groover, followed by the more urgent and equally assured ‘Set Yourself Alight’. Harriet’s voice is sounding better than ever, both sinister and soothing at the same time as the loud/quiet grunge-era dynamic of ‘Looner’ also gives us the record’s first proper guitar solo, proving the band are keen not to overuse the formidable twin-guitar assault of Nico Carew and Jim Swainston. ‘The Undead King of Rock and Roll’ and ‘ The Last Maze’ follow next one after another, both sprawling heavy morasses managing to keep going without outstaying their welcome, the latter ending in a wall of feedback, the natural conclusion to the opening side if you’re one of the lucky 500 with a vinyl copy.

‘White Lies’ picks things up nicely at ‘the start of side two’, a rather splendid slice of good old fashioned sleazy garage rock, emphasising the band’s crossover appeal to fans of both metal and punk. The softer, more contemplative ‘Red Ink’ sees the band trying something a little different…… nothing wrong with that…..before hitting you between the eyes with the machine gun riffage of ‘Room 13’. ‘Stinkhorn’ has a psychedelic feel to it and the rather wonderful ‘Slumber with the Worm’ takes the listener into B-movie territory as Harriet ponders love beyond the grave. The album’s spacy title track brings things to a close on what is a terrific follow up to an encouraging debut release.

Hard and heavy, yet still surprisingly accessible.

Condemned to Hope Album Launch Party – Brudenell Social Club – 26th September

Taking their fine new album ‘Condemned to Hope’ on the road for what is their first headlining UK tour, local heavy rockers Black Moth were always going to start their journey from the city of their inception. It is therefore no surprise that Brudenell fits the bill perfectly and tonight the place is pretty rammed and deservedly so.
The aforementioned new release, the band’s second long player, has just hit the shelves, available the usual formats including old school gatefold sleeved vinyl. Sales of the vinyl version have been so good there are only 5 copies left to go on the merchandise stall….and the tour has barely started. Fortunately the label has ordered a second pressing.

After sterling support work from local 5 piece prog-metallers Kings, followed by the somewhat more doom laden quartet Limb, Harriet and her four band mates take to the stage, kicking-off their set with two crackerjack tracks from the new album ‘Tumbleweave’ and ‘White Lies’ both going down very well as the crowd appears to already know the words to both. Next up are the heavier stoner rock friendly ‘Undead King of Rock & Roll’ then ‘Tree of Woe’, Harriet’s infectiously sardonic cackle underpinned by the twin Les Paul assault supplied by Jim Swainston and Nico Carew.
Dipping back into their first album for crowd favourites ‘Chicken Shit’ ‘Looner’ and ‘Blackbirds Fall’ one appreciates how the new songs, generally more upbeat and slicker, have evolved from their more brooding earlier material from ‘The Killing Jar’. The new lead single, ‘Room 13’ brings us nicely back to the present and the main set finishes with ‘Set Yourself Alight’ closing with the new album’s title track as on the record. The encore consists of Killing Jar stalwarts ‘The Articulate Dead’ and the spaced out Goth of ‘Honey Lung’. Next stop, Liverpool.

Album & Live Review - Mike Price