This Savage Land
02 September 2013
PledgeMusic, where bands source funds for recording through their fanbase by offering special goodies for their support, brings up an interesting quandary – when your audience have put their hard-earned into your product, where does a band draw the line between making a record they’re pleased with, and one that pleases the fans? Black Spiders aren’t expected to stray too far from a fairly narrow spectrum as classic rock revivalists, but on this second full-length, the band have brought some different elements into their high-octane rawk an’ rawl that may surprise their fanbase.
The record commences finding Black Spiders on familiar territory, with ‘Knock You Out’ and ‘Stick It To The Man’ proving a formidable opening gambit. ‘Knock You Out’ begins with a command to “Let the mayhem ensue” and, like Ronseal, does exactly what it says on the tin, with screeching guitars and wailing vocals running rampant. ‘Balls’, the album;s lead-off single, isn’t quite as great as their debut album’s breakout hit ‘KISS Tried To Kill Me’, but still pulls off campy, pouty-lipped braggadocio fantastically – cowbells and all – in that self-aware, Spinal Tap-esque way.
However, what follow goes down an unexpected path – the hard rock sound is fed through a grungier filter, with vocalist Pete “Spider” Spiby channeling his inner Chris Cornell on the triplet beginning with ‘Young Tongues’ and ending with ‘Raised By Wolves’. Perhaps most surprising of all is ‘Put Love In Its Place’, which is something of a ballad – fairly unprecedented from these riff-and-raunch merchants. It’s from this point on, the album struggles to find a consistent path, and though the quality level is retained, This Savage Land gets a little confused.
There are elements of the latter half of This Savage Land that will please many, whether an existing fan of Black Spiders or a newcomer; the boisterous cock rock of ‘Trouble’ is a ready-made drinking anthem, and ‘Teenage Knife Gang’ rocks like the bastard offspring of Motörhead and Thin Lizzy. Perhaps most intriguing of all, though, is finale ‘Sleepy Demon’, a 6-minute behemoth that is quintessential stoner rock. This curtain-closer is by far and away the best track on the album from a personal perspective, but on an album that has already thrown out a curveball or two, this might be a change in direction too far.
Listen to an 11-minute album sampler of This Savage Land:
Black Spiders have made it clear on album number two that they’re trying to move away from traditionalist hard rock, but they just haven’t discovered which way they’re going quite yet. There are no real duds present here, but This Savage Land is rather disorientating in its jarring alternations between styles. The Steel City veterans are seesawing between what they want and what they think the paying fans want, but within the confines of a ten track album, a more cohesive work may have been preferential.
Sounds Like: A dive-bar’s jukebox stuck on shuffle.
Standout Tracks: Knock You Out, Trouble, Sleepy Demon.