Black Rebel Motorcycle Club exists in a space beyond time. Their music does not age, it breathes. They will never sound dated, because they draw from the backbone of rock and roll. They extract their music straight from the DNA of music’s foundation. They undulate, leaning more heavily into one influence or another, but their sound is steadfast and it drips dark menace and the fear of things long forgotten.
Wrong Creatures is their first full-length since 2013’s Spectre at the Feast and their sound has embraced the turmoil of their lives, internalized it, and come out much richer for the experience … and much darker. Death is a constant shadow over the music. Their sound has always been distorted, dark garage-tinged blues, with hints of psychedelia, but the new album dives deep into the abyss.
From the opening tribal drone of “DFF” the soundscape is bleak. There is something, not quite discernible just under the surface. The first track “Spook” is exactly what the band is known for, a dark, dirty bass line, a haunting guitar riff, and a straight forward rock and roll song that crescendos to a driving refrain.
“King of Bones” plays in that dissonant noise realm, distorting both bass and guitar into almost indistinguishable fuzz. The noise drops away to a chant, “skin it all down to the ground,” before giving over completely to the guitar and a surprising descending synth pattern.
“Haunt” has been a mainstay of their live show for a while, but Black Rebel Motorcycle Club delivers a murder ballad like no one else. The song starts out soft, barely a breath, strips down completely before building into an almost ecclesiastic release as it adds layer after layer.
“Questions of Faith” has the barroom swagger of the deep Louisiana bayou. The song oozes the emptiness of drunken promises and broken dreams. “Calling Them All Away” becomes a Cure-like lament. The song folds over and over on itself, incorporating harpsichord and sitar sounds piercing through endless layers of reverb.
“Circus Bazooko” is an oddity, a wholly psychedelic and upbeat song that toys with calliope sounds and a jaunty, almost happy guitar line. It stands out completely, and not in a bad way. It is great to hear BRMC still experimenting.
The album closer “All Rise” begins with vocals over sparse piano chords before building into an anthem, complete with crowd noise. The staccato snare drum announces the build. This song is readymade to become a perfect closer for a BRMC live show. This song seems to shake off the darkness of the rest of the album, overcoming the bleakness like a beacon of white light in the abyss.
BRMC’s sound is timeless, but it is apparent that time has invested the band with a much deeper and darker inspiration. As we all drift closer to death, Death’s shadow hangs heavier on us everyday, and every song on this album drips with either the specter of its embrace or the compulsion to run from its influence. The band has expanded it’s influences and their songwriting has grown exponentially. They are quickly becoming part of the fabric of rock and roll.
Watch the “Little Thing Gone Wild” video below: