Black Moth have decided to bring out the big guns for this one. The third album from the British stoner rock cartel, Anatomical Venus comes replete with boasts about its producers having worked with Napalm Death, Dimmu Borgir and… Maximo Park. Thankfully, rather than mining a vein of indie-pop, the band have focused on the stoner/desert-rock aspects of their doom/garage sound, with mixed results. When it works, as on Moonbow and A Thousand Arrows, Black Moth find a perfect balance between Kyuss-inflected, droning melody and straight-up rock’n’roll, with riffs so filthy and roadworn you can hear the dirt on the fingers of guitarists Jim Swainston and Federica Gialanze.
There’s a focus and discipline that many of their doom oriented contemporaries lack. More critically, it’s on tracks like these that vocalist Harriet Hyde delivers her most vicious melodies in that haunting tone. However, when the bare-bones approach of garage rock combine with the least exciting aspects of stoner, the result is less than the sum of its parts, making for overlong songs that are too simple to offer anything terribly exciting.
Doom rubs shoulders uncomfortably with shoegaze on Istra and the requisite Sabbath-worshipping track Severed Grace, jettisoning the hooks but without drawing much inspiration in exchange. Thankfully, these misses are in the minority – there’s usually a ragged riff within reach of the ‘skip’ button – but they’re sufficient enough to make the album feel longer than its 45 minutes. And not in the good, narcotic way.