Condemned To Hope
New Heavy Sounds
22 September 2014
by Hugh Platt
There isn’t a single aspect of Condemned To Hope that isn’t an improvement on The Killing Jar. Black Moth have burrowed down deep and incubated an album that doesn’t so much piss on the concept of “the difficult second album” as they have dug up its corpse, fired 10,000 volts through it’s embalmed veins and cackled madly as it dances around to their nefarious tune.
Dripping with as many grunge tones as it does doom groans, Condemned To Hope is perhaps more lightweight in its guitars than the contemporaries the band often find themselves lumped with, but they have a deftness to them that their more leaden competitors would be incapable of replicating. The twang that permeates ‘Slumber with The Worm’ rattles with the rockability spirit of The Cramps, while the title-track marches on with a fatalistic dead-eyed cosmic implacability. It still has it’s more traditional moments – the rollicking thunder of the riff at the core of ‘The Last Maze’ for instance – but that Black Moth don’t feel the need to tether themselves to tradition gives Condemned To Hope a fresher feeling than those doom exponents content to circle and clog their genre’s drainpipe.
This flirtation across a multitude of styles while following a persistent thread is mirrored in Harriet Bevan’s lyrics, both in their content and delivery. ‘Tumbleweave’ is a wicked urban parable, equal parts hypnotic chants and tabloid-baiting couplets that could just as easily have been clipped from salubrious headlines plastering newspaper stands on a grimy London thoroughfare. There’s a vivid sense of storytelling within the songs that so much heavy music eschews in favour of hiding behind oblique metaphor and nonsense obfuscation. ‘The Undead King of Rock n Roll’ goes for out-there necromancy, while stuff like ‘White Lies’ and ‘Looner’ concentrate on less fantastical tales of personal betrayal and chemical experimentation/infatuation respectively.
Condemned To Hope is both as playful and as wicked as an elaborate trick’or’treat prank, carrying itself with both wit and a not inconsiderate amount of steel. It positively bristles with character when so many British bands are find themselves chained to dullard traditions or squashed into whatever t-shirt brand is connecting with “the kids” these days. It’s a frankly magnificent record.
Sounds Like: The Cramps conducting a black mass, circa Seattle in the mid-90s. But from Yorkshire.
Standout Tracks: Looner, Slumber with The Worm, White Lies