Words by Benjamin Salt
Release Date – 18th March 2013
Label – Abstract Dragon Records
Rating – 5/10
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club return for what is their sixth album, 12 years on from their seminal debut. Entitled Specter At The Feast, it sees the band adopt a more accessible and radio friendly edge than what we have become accustomed to.
Beginning in bland and unpromising fashion, opening three tracks, including The Call cover and lead single ‘Let The Day Begin’, could pass as the unwanted cast-offs of Achtung Baby-era U2, complete with the pompous self-fellatio that so epitomises said band. It is clear from this early stage that SATF could be considered Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s stadium record. This tag does not suit Peter Hayes and company however. The group’s true strength is found in their intense and often psychedelic grooves, not in the music by numbers displayed here.
Track five ‘Hate The Taste’ could be considered the laziest piece of song-writing the band have recorded to date, coming and going with little fanfare. It is at this point that the impossible thought begins to creep into consciousness. Have BRMC finally made a dud album?
This fear is short lived however, mid-point track ‘Rival’ providing a ferocious reminder of what the band are capable off. Back to basics, its big hooks and fuzz driven riffs are exactly what the first half of the LP is lacking. And it appears the testosterone of that track was still hanging thick in the air when recording succeeding track ‘Teenage disease’, again finding Hayes at his bombastic best. In fact the second half of SATF continues in much the same vein, the zealous ‘Funny Games’ another highlight. Even the slower more down tempo tracks ‘Some Kind of Ghost’ and epic album closer ‘Lose Yourself’ are more venomous and interesting then any of the turgid numbers that open the record.
The first side of Specter At The Feast is, although well crafted, far too slow burning, as if a certain spark is evading them. The raging fire that was so ignited in the earlier part of their career extinguished, leaving a neutered BRMC without any sting or any bite. Although this is quickly rectified in the latter songs, it is not enough to save SATF from mediocrity. One for the die hards.