I love venues like The Sunflower Lounge, wherever you are in the room you are close enough to feel the music and share the sweat of the band. Tonight’s line up encompasses at least space rock, stoner, doom and garage rock between the three billing bands. Taking the top spot are Black Moth, a band I caught live at the 2017 edition of Stoner vs Doom in Sheffield, but before I talk about them, we have two other bands to consider.
BLACK ASTEROIDS are up first, a bass and drum duo who are tonight playing to a home crowd. Their tag line of ‘Naming songs after planets since 2011’ gives a hint of what to expect, but given their low head count, you needn’t fear for indulgent space rock organ solos and synthesizer noodling. Instead we have two blokes who clearly have been connecting over their music for years and know how to have fun. I get the vibe that their rehearsals are probably as fun as their gigs as they bash out heavy riffs which are at times embellished with a little funk, and at other times, reigned in to form something more chilled and psychedelic. There are no vocals but we are instead treated to a glockenspiel duel to spice things up. Good stuff from the Brummie twosome.
The main tour support has come from GRAVE LINES. There isn’t a lot of information to be gleaned from the internet aside from the pedigree of the various members, a HQ of Brighton/London and a loose description of heavy/misanthropic. The music must therefore speak for itself. As soon as they take to the stage, they look and sound like heavyweights, huge doses of menace shot through with good natured inter band grins. Their sound is indeed doomy but it is injected with a post rock/metal vibe which lends it additional gravitas. The riffs are dynamic and groove laden, making intelligent use of time signatures and variations of intensity, and the band are as tight as a tight thing. The vocals are largely a harsh and guttural bark but Grave Lines show diversity in approach with a couple of numbers taking a softer approach, allowing a deep croon to emanate from the throat of vocalist Jake, nicely complemented by the vocals of drummer Julia on one occasion. At these times, Grave Lines take on the vibe of King Dude, perhaps even Swans and I love it. I’ll be keeping a watchful eye out for their forthcoming album to see if this diversity is as evident.
So, to the headline act BLACK MOTH. I had this Leeds based band circled in the programme for the Stoner vs Doom festival last year in Sheffield, as on paper they sounded exactly like they would be my cup of tea. Sadly, a poor sound on the main stage of the Sheffield Academy meant that they didn’t grab my attention as well as they perhaps might have. So tonight, in a much much smaller venue, I took a second bite of that particular cherry, and I’m glad I did.
Black Moth have clearly had a good tour with Grave Lines. Singer Harriet is sporting a Grave Lines shirt and the band are in high spirits. They attack their set with gusto and are met with great enthusiasm by their assembled and clearly devoted audience. The things that make Black Moth read like such an interesting proposition on paper are the nods to an array of genres, garage rock, doom, grunge, metal, all of which are delivered by a powerful female vocal. There simply are not many other bands out there treading this ground. The effectiveness of this bend works on me tonight as to these ears the sound simply gelled despite its chameleon like nature. The band look perhaps as you might guess a band with a wide range of influences might look, and I guess in reality a lot of bands with this wide scope might struggle to be cohesive but Black Moth have managed it. Harriet has an easy rapport with the crowd,winning favour when recognising that their Birmingham gig fell on the 28th anniversary of the release of the self titled Black Sabbath album. The riffs pack a hefty punch with the two guitar one bass combo, unleashing a dense doom one minute and a scuzzy rock and roll the next. The vocals also set Black Moth apart, forgoing growls and screams for something melodic yet still powerful. Yes, Black Moth are a female fronted band, what of it? What is important is that the vocals have both power and melody. If you need comparisons, perhaps something akin to PJ Harvey’s bolder moments and Zola Jesus too. The set progresses easily keeping the interest of the crowd, delving into the soon to be released third album ‘Anatomical Venus’ which if tonight is anything to go by will be their strongest release to date. Sadly I had to dip out just before the end of the set due to my public transport limitations, but I found I had a smile on my face when emerging from the basement venue on to the street I could still hear Black Moth perfectly well, and for some distance down the street too. Tonight, Black Moth did a good job and looked liked they had fun doing it. Long live Black Moth.