This record is one of the albums I was most looking forward to seeing released in 2018 and in cases like this it is hard to not to judge on an inflated expectation. There is nothing worse than the disappointment of a favourite band releasing something that you just feel falls short of those expectations. With Leeds / London based Black Moth there is an extra layer of interest as well since there has been a change of personnel with the addition of Federica Gialanze to the line-up, a guitarist who previously played in a Black Sabbath tribute band but has reassuringly appeared wearing Kreator and Testament T-Shirts.
So, the big question is, is it worth the build-up? The answer is a definite yes. It’s never going to be what you expected it to be, but if you’re OK with something that still makes you stand back and be impressed then you are onto a winner and with Anatomical Venus we are seeing a band coming of age. A more mature but no less exciting band, with more to say and a whole host of new found confidence and skills to present it with.
“Istra” is the perfect opener to any album, this is what albums are made for. For me this is your opportunity to set the theme of the album and really draw people in from the off and “Istra” is perfect for this. A slow and dynamic build up cumulates in Harriet Hyde’s vocals soaring above. It becomes instantly apparent that on this, their third album, that there is a maturity to both the sound and even more so the lyrics.
There seems to be an increase in confidence from all members. Vocal-wise we have a more controlled and perfectly weighted and matched vocal delivery from a singer who seems to have spent a lot of time working on their voice and more importantly believing in herself. Musically it becomes instantly apparent that this is a bolder, more confident and more settled band that know what they are aiming for.
“Istra” not only sets the tone for the album in style but stands alone as a great individual song. It also pushes the band into a new stratosphere. Yes, it’s clearly Black Moth but a Black Moth that have grown. We have moved away from a Black Sabbath sounding doom band with intriguing lyrics to an impressive metal band, with dark and doom overtones, a new metal backbone and entire new sound. This is the sound, now, of Black Moth.
“Istra” works perfectly with second song “Moonbow” which, I will be honest, I wasn’t instantly struck with when I heard it released as a single, yet on this album it is a highlight and perfectly fits. The chorus, which sweeps and soars, really enhances the overall sound of the album. So how does it work here but didn’t grab me in the same way as a single? My expectations (possibly), but what I keep thinking about and returning to every time I listen to this album (and believe me this has been played to death already and I have only had it five minutes) is that this album is like one piece of art in 10 chapters rather than ten individual songs. Imagine one song with ten acts and you will be close to understanding Anatomical Venus. This is not a collection of songs with some singles thrown in there but an album that flows and ebbs and references itself throughout. This means it’s harder to pick out some individual songs for personal credit, instead you are presented with an album that needs to be played in its entirety – and preferably again and again and again.
“Sisters of the Stone” for me is classic Black Moth but even this seems to have been given some premium unleaded and it sounds fresh, doomy and stoner, but we have an added urgency that is less youthful enthusiasm of the past and more determination to get the point across.
“Tourmaline” appears in the later part of the album and is an interesting change of pace. It’s almost dreamlike with the guitars being a lot more understated and Hyde’s floating vocals pushed to the front. The stoner build up of the bridge to chorus also works well. Final track “Pig Man” is the perfect song for them to finish the album on. Not only could this be their next single, it’s definitely one of the stand-out tracks on the album, but the way it concludes in feedback and chaos and ultimately ends such a perfect story is the icing on the cake.
When we look back on Black Moth’s career in years to come this will be seen as the album where Black Moth grow up and became of age. More importantly it will be seen as the album where Black Moth found their own sound. One that is intoxicatingly dizzy, that is majestic, sweeps and soars but still rocks out.
Anatomical Venus is out on 23rd February