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Monday, 19 February 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Black Moth (Live Review By Paul)

Black Moth: Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

Ah, St Valentine’s Day. Another commercial masterpiece designed to ensnare the quite stupid British public into handing over more cash on overpriced sentimental guff. However, this year, a ticket to see Leeds’ fabulous Black Moth meant that for the first time in our marriage, Mrs H received a present from yours truly. It was money well spent as, along with many others who also decided to spend their evening in the Capital’s premier rock bar, we were treated to an evening of great value and high quality.

The Used’s sold out UK tour had recently been postponed at short notice due to a bereavement and this had left their support LowLives (7) at a loss. No gigs. To their credit the band have been dipping in and out of slots wherever they could get them, supporting where possible, throwing the odd freebie and generally making themselves busy. Arriving as the band were already bursting through their set, it was evident that there was still some disappointment and frustration within the band, with a couple of comments made about the audience response. Still, Lee, Luke, Steve and Jax’s aggressive Nirvana-esque driving pop-rock was appealing and the band put full effort into their show. Heavy drums, pop hooks and lots of driving guitar are the core of the band’s sound and although the Fuel crowd, notoriously slow to get going took some time to warm up, a decent response was eventually forthcoming. Of course, with ex-members of The Defiled and The Ataris in the ranks, the LA based band probably expect greater things.

Heavy misanthropic heft. Three words that capture the essence of main support Grave Lines (8). 45 minutes of intense bludgeoning about the head from the doom outfit left many staring in confusion at the completion of their set. I think it was five songs but it might have just been one long aural assault. Who knows? The South Coast outfit ensured that their presence on this tour would long be remembered with some quite painfully heavy sludge which slowly enveloped the crowd with its misery and hate. Bassist Staggerin’ Matt is aptly named, his lunging headbanging was initially alarming in its exaggerated style. The incomprehensibly tall Oli on guitar, stripped to the waist, gurning for his life and plastered with some fine ink, peeled out some of the most intensely heavy riffs Fuel has ever seen.

Behind him the waif like Julia Owen, resplendent in a Sleep shirt, belied her stature with a battering that had you wondering if Black Moth would need a new drum kit. That left snarling vocalist Jake Harding, in tatty vest and shorts to deliver the knockout blow, his roaring vocals incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the band’s work. Describing Grave Lines show is easy. Imagine being run over by a steamroller and just as you get to your feet a herd of elephants tramples you back into the dirt. Yeah. Like that. With a new track from their forthcoming album mixed with songs from 2016’s Welcome To Nothing, I was unable to tell whether the crowd had been warmed up or beaten down by the end of the set. It was nothing short of legalised assault and battery.

Leeds’ Black Moth (9) release Anatomical Venus in March. Having already heard it and reviewed it for the Musipedia, I was at an advantage as the bulk of band’s set comprised new songs amongst older favourites from Condemned To Hope and debut The Killing Jar. The new tracks have brought a heaviness to the stoner sound of the band and the Sabbath style riffage of Federica Gialanze and Jim Swainston guaranteed that any opportunity to clear the head from the pounding of Grave Lines was quickly lost. All eyes focus on vocalist Harriet Hyde, whose superb voice was lost at times in the traditional muddy mix at Fuel but when she did break through it was with a razor-sharp quality. Anchoring the band, drummer Dom McCready whose intense pummelling of the kit left you surprised it was still standing by the end of the set.

Whilst Hyde may be the focal point, bassist Dave Vachon rarely stopped moving, nipping from front to back time and again as the band picked up steam and got into cruise control. If you are unfamiliar with Black Moth, imagine the darkness of Sabbath, the ethereal qualities of Siouxsie And The Banshees and the chaos of The Stooges. New tracks included the fabulous Istra, the thrashy Moonbow and the anarchic set closer Pig Man, whilst there was the inevitable Tumbleweed from Condemned and Honey Lung from The Killing Jar for the older fans. Black Moth are intense, heavy and above all fun to see live. A band who enjoy what they do, destined for bigger things.  

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