Black Moth - Anatomical Venus - (7.5/10)
Published on May 16, 2018
Unflinchingly staring back with an uncomfortable smirk
She lies stripped beyond all flesh, dead, and beautiful; her erotic gaze captures the imagination of her onlookers, flustered are their faces. Undressed by their eyes as much as their conniving hands, she no longer remains a subject of medical exploration and becomes the object of their desires. She knows this. Exposed to the bone with every layer peeled back her humanity is exhumed yet her ‘womanhood’ remains intact – for her onlookers seek the knowledge of her yet acquire neither the empathy nor the psychological capabilities to do so. She knows this. She knows what she has been reduced to, what they have reduced her to. And scratching deep within her untouched mind are the belting hooks and caustic jib of a heavier Black Moth, waiting to erupt from within those walls and shake the foundations upon which their obsessions stand as the Anatomical Venus claims back what is rightfully hers.
It’s been some time since the critically acclaimed Condemned to Hope wreaked havoc on the unsuspecting masses and followed by a plethora of live shows and festival appearances. With their new recruit, the inimitable Federica Gialanze, Black Moth have grown leaps and bounds into the shoes they now fill on their astute third offering: on Anatomical Venus, the Leeds-based group have adopted a heavier and darker approach whilst unflinchingly staring back at the male gaze with nothing more than an uncomfortable smirk. Though occasionally feeling a tad skin-deep musically as opposed to their usually fleshed-out affairs, the album stands testament of a band who have grown so much since their garage days to become one of the most relevant yet entertaining bands to come from British shores, a bold statement whilst building on the infectious rhythmic hooks, sultry sophistication and charm, and turning everything up to eleven.
From its haunting opening moments to the most explosive climax the group have screamed, Anatomical Venus provides an immense journey heavy in feminist symbolism: songs like ‘Severed Grace’ – with its two-dimensional yet menacing doom vibes, intense riffmongering, and hypnotic chorus – and gracefully pounding opener ‘Istra’ take plenty of cues from the subject matter with which the album lends its name, but it’s the far superior ‘Sisters of the Stone’ which takes the spotlight with its aggressive heaviness and twin guitar soloing, vocalist Harriet Hyde punching out her lyrics of womanly unity with pure passion. Her vocals throughout this beast are among the best she has done, with the hallucinogenic ‘Tourmaline’ and the gorgeous ‘A Thousand Arrows’ not just standing out as vocal highlights but as crowning achievements in their maturing craftsmanship, whilst ‘A Lover’s Hate’ and ‘Pig Man’ are proof they can still crack necks with their acerbic wit. This is not to say the album isn’t a fun listen, but it doesn’t stand on the same plinth as the lyrical genius found on its predecessor.
There is reason to that: it’s not supposed to be. Anotomical Venus stands firmly with two feet on its own slab of rock and just as proudly. With some written credits going to Hyde’s close friend Jessika Green, there is an undeniable poeticism coursing through the album’s veins, its heart beating with a sounding relevance which has permeated into rock music over the span of at least the last 365 days. It doesn’t change who the band are, it just adds another layer of flesh onto their finely-tuned body, one with a more commanding female voice., a voice which just gets better as it grows. It may take several spins before the Venus fully unravels herself to you but when she does you will be all the more thankful for it; and trust in knowing it will be on her own choosing; for as the music seeps from their body, she will have the last laugh…