Often labelled a doom metal band, as they occasionally sound like Black Sabbath (who doesn’t?!) Leeds’ Black Moth are actually a trickier proposition to nail down. On tracks like ‘Tumbleweave’ and ‘Looner’ they are too flip, too urbane and too metropolitan to be traditional doom metal – a genre often played by portly, bearded men who give the impression of having just emerged from a medieval monastery.
Black Moth have a new, hipper and fresher outlook, closer in mindset to post-punk or Brit Pop than 1970’s classic rock, whilst still maintaining the heaviness of the music, such as on the pounding ‘Room 13’ and the punky ‘White Lies’. So familiar themes of terrified damsels lost in the woods turn out to be tales of none-too-innocent ingenues, the likes of whom so often appear in tabloid kiss and tell stories. ‘Looner’ is perhaps a smart mouthed attack on groupies – heavily indebted to Nirvana it wouldn’t have been out of place among the feminist revenge fantasies of Drag‘s recent album. The band widen their palette further on the goth n’ roll meets black metal of ‘Slumber With The worm’ which is pretty dazzling in it’s melding of musical styles.
There is still room for proper grinding doom of ‘The Undead King of Rock n’ Roll’, which is a lyrical companion piece to Ghost‘s ‘Zombie Queen’, and the olde worlde wyrdness of ‘Stinkhorn’ – ‘nature’s little hard-ons‘ which on one level appears to be a song about that particular peculiarly named fungi – although other interpretations are readily available – ‘cos life is dirt and we grow in it‘. It’s a song that at first I found too odd, despite it incessant Sabbath-esque grind, but the poetry and wit of the lyrics soon won me over. In fact lyrics are a strong suit for this band, I can’t remember many albums this year whose songs are so damn interesting.
The one thing this album misses is a track as effortlessly epic (despite being only 3 minutes long) as ‘Land of the Sky’ from their ace debut ‘The Killing Jar’, which I don’t flatter when I say sounds like classic Iron Maiden. The title track ‘Condemned to Hope’ which closes the album, strives to hit a similar grandiose feel without ever quite making it. The melody prowls like a caged tiger, but it never really attacks in the way you hope/fear.
This is an ambitious, clever record by another band who offer yet more proof of just how healthy and confident the British metal community is feeling. With great records by Hounds, Turbowolf, Black State Highway, Purson and Black Moth either out or due soon, this is turning out to be a great year for home grown talent.