Music journalists are always seeking to pigeonhole bands within certain scenes and genres, it makes their job a hell of a lot easier. Black Moth are a band that seem to fall prey to this being consistently lumped in with the stoner and doom scenes.
Now, I’m not suggesting this is an all together inappropriate comparison to make as Black Moth do display certain parallels with both styles, but on the whole it does them a disservice as here is a band that is forging ahead with a sound that is very much their own and developing at an impressive rate…if you can imagine a heady combination of The Pixies, Black Sabbath and PJ Harvey!
The debut album The Killing Jar was as fine an introduction to a band as you could wish for but Condemned To Hope sees the band pulling in a direction that sees them more as leaders rather than followers. Sure, the riffs are dark and draw from the, by now, almost dry Sabbath well, but they are imbued with a knowing nod towards the wider rock world…stand out track Looner for example manages to sound both edgy, dark yet possesses a looseness and pop sensibility that many bands forsake. Black Moth in many ways are a conundrum; they are metallic but not really a metal band, they’re gloomy but not doom, they have a 70’s vibe but sound in no way retro. It makes it difficult for a brainless writer such as myself to make sense of the whole picture but one thing I can tell you is…Back Moth are fucking fantastic in every way!
First let’s take the riffs. Backed up by an impressive, rich, fuzzy tone (a vast improvement from the debut), each riff is hard hitting, simplistic and dangerously catchy, whether they be pulling a Saint Vitus on The Last Maze, displaying more punk and indie leanings on White Lies or pushing ahead into straighter rock territory on the aforementioned Looner.
Next, let’s look at the songs. On the debut they were already impressive but now the band seem more acutely aware of the need for strong melodies that will grip the listener and structures that allow the melodies room to breath and become familiar.
Finally let’s take a look at the band’s secret weapon, Harriet Bevan. Bevan’s voice possesses great depth and power in itself, more so than any female vocalist currently within what is considered stoner and doom (and I shudder to have to make reference to these genres again). I apologise now for singling her out as a female vocalist when she is simply a great vocalist regardless, however, her delivery possesses an assured quality and knowingness that veers from aggressive to sensual to fragile in a way that male vocalists singularly fail to manage and serves to make the Black Moth experience that much more beguiling.
Black Moth’s star seems to be on the ascendant right now and deservedly so as they’re taking heavy music into increasingly interesting and appealing territory. Right now they’re pushing the boundaries of the underground and on the strength of this album, I don’t think it will be too long before we see them gradually gracing bigger stages, not just as a support band, and being mentioned in more reverential tones as the great white hope for British heavy music.
Scribed by: Ollie Stygall