Black Moth: Condemned To Hope

What we learned from Condemned To Hope, the Jim Sclavunos-produced second album by West Yorkshire's premier garage-punk sleaze-metallers Black Moth.

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Yorkshire is a foreign country. They do things differently there.

God’s own county may be more famous for no-nonsense populist party-metal like Def Leppard or Terrorvision, but Black Moth’s pulverising garage-rock anthems re-imagine these craggy moors and soot-caked mill towns as the nocturnal backdrop to incense-drenched orgies and menacing mobs with flaming torches.

**Singer Harriet Bevan is a one-woman weapon of mass disruption. **

Always a powerful presence both live and on record, Bevan flexes her literary muscles here, painting vivid word pictures of flaming annihilation and bohemian squalor on rip-snorting tracks like Set Yourself Alight and The Last Maze. Outside the band she also works on various art and performance projects, improvised theatre and cult music fanzines.

The Moth are starting to shake off the Ozzy and Iggy overtones of their 2012 debut The Killing Jar.

Earning numerous comparisons to Black Sabbath, the Stooges and L7 with their debut, Black Moth have not entirely escaped these long shadows on their second album. But Condemned to Hope adds an extra shot of PJ Harvey-ish blues-growl, particularly on lascivious sleaze-grinders like The Undead King of Rock N Roll and the churning, ritualistic Stinkhorn.

**Jim Sclavunos is not just Black Moth’s producer, more like their punk dad. **

In between Nick Cave duties, the Bad Seeds and Grinderman drummer has adopted Black Moth as a kind of personal cause. More than just a conventional producer, Sclavunous acts as father figure, lyrical advisor and “surrogate listener” to the band. He recently hinted they are the children he never had. Which is only mildly creepy.

**New guitarist Nico Carew has given the band more layers of brute physicality. **

Recently recruited as second guitarist, Carew adds both complexity and muscle to the Black Moth sound, whether belting out punky riffage on the ragged Room 13 or laying down sludgy power chords on Tumbleweave.

**Bevan’s taste for demonic horror gets more salacious with each album. **

While The Killing Jar was swimming in occult imagery, Condemned to Hope aims more for slow-burn psycho-horror mingled with sado-erotic tension. A few songs hint at dark depths of sleazy ecstasy they can not deliver, but sometimes the mere promise of diabolical debauchery is enough to set the imagination racing.

Black Moth should not be confused with Black Moth Super Rainbow.

Easy mistake to make. But although Pittsburgh-based analogue electronica duo Black Moth Super Rainbow make agreeably psychedelic grooves with titles like Super Heavy and I Think I’m Evil, they lack the granite-carved northern bluntness of their similarly named UK cousins. Handy general rule: if it doesn’t say Yorkshire on the label, it won’t be Yorkshire in the tin.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.