thu 23/05/2024

Album: Black Midi - Hellfire | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Black Midi - Hellfire

Album: Black Midi - Hellfire

UK three-piece tread the fine line between unlistenable racket and work of genius

'Hellfire': uneasy listening

Throughout the history of music, there have been plenty of artists whose ideas have been far more appealing and interesting than the way they were put into practice. The whole of the studio recorded work of the Grateful Dead and the lion’s share of the No Wave movement being cases in point.

For most people, there could well be a new nominee to this list in Black Midi’s Hellfire album – a joyously chaotic and frequently almost unlistenable racket that will no doubt eventually join the likes of Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica as a record of supposed great influence that many will actually struggle to listen to from beginning to end.

Things kick off with a title track that comes across like brass band-backed hip hop with hurried and hectic vocals before delving into an amalgam of big band jazz and atonal noise in “Sugar/Tzu”. “Eat Men Eat” is reminiscent of the Minutemen’s harsh and driving punk rock with vocals that move from crooning to screaming and back again, while “Still” comes over like Eugene Chadbourne-like psychedelic Country & Western, and “Dangerous Liaisons” seems to imagine Lee Hazelwood twisted on some serious narcotics. Certainly, no-one could accuse Black Midi of landing on a style and sticking with it – “27 Questions” even sounds like freaked out chanson as imagined by the Butthole Surfers.

There is neither a suggestion that Hellfire was just thrown together nor anything sloppy in the band’s execution. Its avoidance of any discernible melody or groove, however, does place the album firmly within the area of weird and disorientating “difficult listening”. Nevertheless, whether Black Midi’s latest disc is a work of genius or an artistic representation of a migraine is firmly in the ear of the beholder. But Hellfire is without doubt an album that exudes some serious brass neck and is well worthy of an exploratory listen, if nothing else.

No-one could accuse Black Midi of landing on a style and sticking with it


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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