Faster than you can groan “Not another metal act leading with ‘black’ in its moniker,” we have the third album from Leeds, UK art-fuzz acolytes, BLACK MOTH. Call the band stoner Brits if you feel like being crude, but this band has its eyes set on taking this subgenre’s standards and doing something unique with them. This band loves NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS and SWANS as much as it does UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS and KYUSS. Alternative rock as much as garage has a big influence over “Anatomical Venus”. Sure, KYLESA has already spearheaded this charge, but don’t be surprised if this particular genre splicing finds future favor in the sludge underground.
The opening number “Istra” makes quite the impression once the band stamps on the amps and ignites its sound space. More notable, however, is the blending of alternative angst passages in the vein of SONIC YOUTH and PJ Harvey—minus PJ and Kim Gordon‘s frantic, antipop skittering. Harriet Hyde‘s (aka Harriet Bevan) swoons may have less bombast than the instrumentation behind her, but her confidence sensibly carries this number and, amidst the whirligig distortion, “Moonbow” thereafter. She’s particularly effective as conscience’s voice amidst “A Thousand Arrows”‘s moody trudge later in the album.
The KYUSS influences over “Sisters of the Stone” and “Severed Grace” are undeniable, but the former song swings with Hyde‘s intense fronting. The congruency is evident between new guitarist Federica Gialanze, replacing Nico Carew, and Jim Swainston, and their twin riffing on “Buried Hoards”, a track rooted in L7 as much as the MELVINS, is as savory as everything else about this album.
The sweltering “A Lovers Hate” is a superbly rowdy collision between THIN LIZZY and THE ATOMIC BITCHWAX with rigorous riffs giving Harriet Hyde a platform to hurl her accusations with melodic authority. This is smartly followed up by the energetic, FU MANCHU-loving “Screen Queen” and rounded by the fist-banging, screechy tirade of “Pig Man”.
There’s obviousness galore to “Anatomical Venus”, but with a fresh, urgent voice bipolar to Josh Homme and Ken Pucci, BLACK MOTH is well onto something. Bringing an eclectic set of stimuli to this band’s developing craft, “Anatomical Venus” has the potential to stand out as a forward-thinking model where distortion rock should venture, lest it fizzle out trivially.