Whether I finish this post tonight, or not, here’s one for International Women’s Day – Black Moth Condemned To Hope. This 2014 LP has it all, heaviness, rudeness, some excellent playing, all manner of exciting genre melting and playful lyrics. Oh and the female singer is one of those chick women girl things, that I read about once.
Condemned To Hope reeled me in with its great Roger Dean cover art, which I mistook for wearily trudging WW1 soldiers but if you look a little more closely you can see they’re actually toting swords and spears. As always with the wonderful Mr Dean, who also devised the band’s logo, it is a wonderful piece of art in its own right that looks particularly great over the whole gatefold sleeve. Now add in the fact that the white and black swirly vinyl edition I have was limited to 500 copies and the fact that it was produced by Jim Sclavunos of the Bad Seeds and you’ll see that I was just roadkill here, it just rolled right over the top of me and onto my shelves.
All of which would just be sad if the content weren’t up to snuff, but it certainly is. Black Moth have a really interesting sound about them, yup there are definitely stoner and doom elements in there, but there’s all manner of other interesting bits and pieces in the mix too. Take opener ‘Tumbleweave’ which borrows a trick or two from Soundgarden at their best, the better to tell its story of venal coupling and anti-romance. The production is rather fabulous, clear and warm with Harriet Bevan’s vocals very much up front.
‘The Undead King of Rock’n’Roll’ is a great title and probably their most stoner effort on Condemned To Hope, I love the way the music drops away for the verses which brings the lyrics into sharp relief and they don’t let us down (‘phantom septum haunts my dreams’ is a line I love unreservedly). ‘The Last Maze’ is the heaviest track here, damn good it is too on this form Black Moth could swing with the likes of (my faves) Alabama Thunderpussy and/or Goatsnake, great use of feedback too.
But it isn’t all a big Sabbath fantasia, Black Moth hit the speed for the likes of ‘White Lies, Silver Tongues’ sounding like a really pissed off Veruca Salt, or a weaponized Elastica and I love the menacing garage rock of ‘Stinkhorn’ – definitely the best ever song about the phallic qualities of mushrooms that I have ever heard!*. The spare, psychobilly of ‘Slumber With the Worm’ is a real treat too, it’s like Iomni jamming with the Stray Cats played at the wrong speed, plus any song which uses the word ‘discarnate’ deserves a separate mention in despatches, particularly when it incorporates a freeform freak-out in the middle. It all ends with the title track, which sounds like Monster Magnet surveying the remains of a world they have destroyed through their own debauches before shrugging their shoulders and moving on to the next.
So overall Black Moth really impressed me with Condemned To Hope, it is full of personality, there are some great ideas and execution right here, topped off with some swaggering playing and a really fine rock vocalist, who happens to be a
chick woman – in fact her gender’s the least relevant thing about her performance here. This LP rocks.
PS: There’s more. Like the closet fetishist I assuredly am I have furtively concealed my favourite and, totally coincidentally, the rudest bit of rock from you. Third track in we get ‘Looner’, which until tonight I had no idea was the terminology for someone who gains sexual satisfaction from balloons – their feel, their popping, their bounciness … I’m a broad-minded sort of chap, but it’s not one that floats my boat, but this track does. ‘Looner’ has the whole quiet/loud dynamic I love AND a video chock full of more fetishes than I care to enumerate here – Please be warned ladies and gentlemen that the attached video not only shows balloons and a lady acting as a table, but also a guitarist playing a blistering solo astride a windswept computer generated planetscape … oh and bare lady breasties. Consider yourself warned.
*the line ‘nature’s little hard-ons, pale dwellers of the forest floor’ has given me much joy this evening. Sorry, I never really got beyond 14 years-old. eeeeeeet
**For UK readers – the ‘NHS’ referred to here is not the National Health Service^ but the record company New Heavy Sounds.
^For US readers – this is a liberal, pinko, commie idea where sick people can go to hospital and get treatment, even if they can’t afford it.