If there was a criticism to be levelled at Black Moth’s darkly seductive 2014 album Condemned to Hope, and to a lesser degree its equally brilliant predecessor, The Killing Jar, it was a tendency to separate the band’s doom and stoner rock influences like carnivores at a safari park, rarely allowing them to make sweet, toothy love in the enclosures of the same song. Not so with album three, Anatomical Venus, which flings open the gates and lets nature take its horrifyingly savage and satisfying course, creating a meatier, bloodier proposition than we have previously seen. By focusing their efforts on a unified beast and giving themselves the chance to wallow in their own character rather than that of their forebears, the band have created an album that comes across as both heavier and more accessible than its siblings, despite at times being neither of those. If the first two albums were forged in the reptile house – a giant slathering dragon here, a snake poised for attack there, something weird and spiky crunching bugs in the dark over there – then album three is the meerkat pen – 10 pepped-up little fleabags, each looking outwardly similar but all desperately vying for your attention by flexing their muscles and performing different parlour tricks. The resulting consistency of Anatomical Venus finds the band less reliant on a couple of heavy hitters à la Looner or The Articulate Dead, but no less powerful, and the Moth in full flight remains a wonderful thing, like Black Label Society playing Black Spiders through Black Sabbath’s b(l)ackline. The towering psychedelia of opener Istra quickly gives way to lead single Moonbow, which blends the guitar tone and riffing of The Obsessed with Led Zeppelin mysticism, a theme that continues with Sisters of the Stone, one of the heavier moments on the album and a prime contender for Air Bass of the Year should the BRITs or GRAMMYs be looking for a new category. Fans of the more pummeling side of Black Moth should revel in the central one-two punch of A Lovers Hate and Screen Queen, rampaging garage blasts with a hint of the pumped-up Orange Goblin about them, while lovers of the slow and nasty will find comfort in the build up to this midway slugfest, and the gradual descent back down to closer Pig Man, which comes across like Blondie holding a seance with Tony Iommi himself. Elsewhere, elements of top-of-their-game Fireball Ministry creep into proceedings, making for an effortlessly cool soundtrack to late night hangs and early morning drop-ins, meaning 2018 could be a huge year for Black Moth.
Anatomical Venus is out Friday 2 March via Candlelight Records