The story of Black Spiders is not an uncommon one. Band forms, gets all the right support slots, gains traction, releases a great debut and tours the hell out of it. The follow-up hits, albeit not quite as hard as the first and eventually, the band call it quits with their last stand, middle fingers held aloft defiantly yet dignified.
Four years after that farewell tour (and eight since their last album), they’ve re-emerged with a self-titled third album and a slightly re-jigged line-up as Planet Rock’s Wyatt Wendels takes over drumming duties. And that’s the only difference. They’ve done exactly what you’d want and expect from a new Black Spiders album – picked up exactly where they left off.
Opening number “Fly in the Soup” is prime cut, hairy, sweaty, take-no-prisoners, riff-fuelled hard rock. It’s the exact premise the band built their name on and this time, it’s even more vicious. Indeed, when some bands decide to reform, it doesn’t live up to expectation but here, the quintet have made an album which will only provoke one reaction: “Fuck you, Black Spiders for leaving us”. This album contains some of their best, infectious and gig-appropriate (when safe to do so) material to date.
Combining the tightness of their first album with the variation found on the follow-up yet reined in, it’s the most Black Spiders-y album you’ll hear. “Wizard Shall Not Kill Wizard” has them tap into their doom side with an undercurrent of psychedelic to create an evil sound you’d expect to hear on an early Sabbath record. “Stabbed in the Back” has a ferocious punk tinge to it without the mandatory sneer whilst album closer “Crooked Black Wings” has a grandiosity and gallop you’d find in some of the best Iron Maiden numbers.
However, for the most part, it’s all-out riffs, solos and grooves in only the way hard rock can do it. Even on slower numbers like the stoner vibes of “Give ‘Em What They Want” and the bluesy “Free Ride”, they barely take their foot off the accelerator, ensuring they’re songs with a hard march baked into them. “Nothing Better”, “Rock and Roll” and “No Luck No Bones” are uncompromising hard chargers built on the backs of those who led the way. Meanwhile, “Good Times” takes The Easybeats’ track and transform it into a song which could easily be mistaken for one of their own whilst paying homage to the original.
No-frills hard rock has never been thin on the ground; it’s only the number of good acts which has fluctuated over the years. Where it can be easy to fall into parody (intentionally or not) or bad or lacking substance, Black Spiders walk that tightrope better than anyone by balancing it all on the strength of themselves as a unit. Despite the fresh blood and the lack of in-person interaction (no surprises why), they sound tighter and hungrier than ever. There’s a new level of polish found in the performances whilst still keeping it raw and unpretentious.
What becomes apparent when listening to Black Spiders is that when the band called it quits, they left a hole only they could fill. If a global pandemic was the price we had to pay for them to reform, then it was completely worth it.
Black Spiders is released on 26th March