Black Moth is a band that I’m glad to say I’ve been following for a good long while, seeing at shows as far apart as when they played with Uncle Acid and the Shovell lads in 2014 in Glasgow, to their blinding 2017 set at Bloodstock where the excellent addition of Federica Gialanze on guitar gave them the added crunch a dyed in the wool metal audience craved. 2018 has arrived, and the band is hitting the road with a forthcoming album, ‘Anatomical Venus’, and I am again travelling to Glasgow to see them play, and have been fortunate enough to score the album to review.
First off, the album really does deserve to be purchased in a physical format, the artwork being some of the most stunning and eye-catching I’ve seen in a good long while, the titular ‘Anatomical Venus’ being a figurine from the eighteenth century where science met art in an attempt to explain human anatomy without the corruption of actual viscera, or encroaching on the body taboos inflicted by society and policed by an oppressive religion. If you’re of my ever greyer vintage, you may remember a “modern” equivalent in the form of ‘The Visible Man and Woman’, transparent Action Man sized figurines that could be disassembled by young kids to further their knowledge and give fuel to their nightmares long before the internet gave such unfettered access to the bizarre for developing minds. To return from my nostalgia trip to the album, let me say that having just the download and an inch square thumbnail of the picture on a phone screen does not really do justice to the piece.
Onto the music, and if the cover is stunning, what that cover contains more than steps up to the mark. After a gentle couple of opening chords on ‘Istra’, the guitars pound in, with Harriet Hyde’s battle-cry of “Aphrodite” leading the band into the fray, her magical vocals interweaving between riffs that are by turn crushing and ethereal. ‘Moonbow’ brings an intricate twin guitar interplay to the mix, whilst ‘Sisters of the Stone’, for all its rightfully worthy lyrical overtones is arguably the heaviest track they have yet produced, with neck wrenching riffs aplenty for those who just want to switch off their brains and let their instincts take over and revel in the music. Indy-fuzz comes to the fore in ‘Buried Hoards’, whilst a Gothic grace dominates ‘Severed Grace’, itself swiftly followed by ‘A Lover’s Hate’ with its screaming Thin Lizzy twin guitar attack; damn but Black Moth have done the right thing recruiting Fed to their ranks. If that’s not enough to sell you on the album yet, ‘Screen Queen’ has the looping dirty riffs of classic early grunge, and it would be all too easy to imagine the late Chris Cornell duetting on the track, the same stiff middle finger that Soundgarden raised against the musical establishment being front and centre for album closer ‘Pig Man’, which sprints ever faster through to a wall of discordant feedback, all the while, through every song, the binding feature being the clear, angry, eloquent, clarion cry vocals of Harriet Hyde, the lyrical glue that binds together the disparate musical styles of the instrumentalists.
There are a whole raft of sounds that come to the fore in ‘Anatomical Venus’, from straight out hard rock, the bleakness of Doom, nineties Indie sneers, the Gothically Fey, hints of Prog complexity, the mysteriously occult, and out and out fist pumping Metal. In the hands of a lesser band, this would have the potential to be a awful, bitty mess. However, Black Moth bring it all together, creating an album that will appeal to a huge spectrum, and should bring them deservedly to a far wider audience. If you haven’t already done so, get buying tickets to their current run of shows before they outgrow the sort of venues where you can see and experience their magic close up, and don’t expect to be surrounded by a sea of denim cut off and black leather jackets as the siren call of ‘Anatomical Venus’ should draw in a far wider crowd.