Beat the Devil’s Tattoo – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

BRMC are back, and kicking even more ass. Baby 81 blew me away when it first came out back in 2007. After further looking into their catalog over the years and getting their album/DVD Live (the CD mix is awful but the DVD is totally worth it all), I couldn’t wait for their follow up that was due this year as well and their show in St. Louis earlier this year. The album dropped and I was really surprised to hear it. While I was expecting a more rock n roll album, this album was a bit more gothic. This could be because the album and the title was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. It also sounds a bit more folky on some parts which sounds logic too, cause this album was recorded in the same place that their acoustic folk album Howl was. The album is carried by a dark energy and it works really well.

The title track starts off the trend. The dark folky beginning is followed by the roaring chorus that grows stronger each time despite the lack of lyrics. It’s a strong track that drags us to down to hell.

Conscience Killer is an “in-your-face” track. Peter sneers “Give me a little room and I’ll spit in your eye” through out the track. The rest of the lyrics fall in the same vain. Sounds like someone’s had a little too much to drink. Or maybe not enough just yet. The breakdown is also a great part of this track. The snare heavy drums, Robert’s fuzzed (almost shoegaze like) bass provides fantastic rhythm and Peter uses his guitar rig to put out a scattered, but heavy solo that stays in the same light as the track itself.

The next great track is War Machine. Robert’s bass on this track is pure evil. It’s sounds mechanical (it is called War MACHINE) and heavy. I didn’t really start to notice this track until they opened with it at the Pageant back in March. The roar of the bass helped get the show to a heavy start. Rob steals the show with this track, flinging his bass around like a machine gun as he howls each lyric line by line. He competes with the roar of the bass and it almost becomes a battle. It’s a great mix and a great track. Peter’s falsetto adds a good contrast during the bridge along with his humbler guitar. After Bad Blood takes the album down for a bit, War Machine rips it back to life.

The album then suddenly turns down for a bit for the Howl-esque track Sweet Feeling and moves into Evol, which sounds like an abandoned track to Baby 81. Mama Taught Me Better is heavy as hell and Peter and Robert slay it with their vocal deliveries. Up after that is River Styx, which is another great dark bluesy track.

The Toll is a fantastic song. Peter on acoustic guitar is a win situation for everyone really. The man has borrowed a page from the books of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan when it comes to slow songs. The duet during the chorus fits in quite nicely. This is probably one of the most peaceful, yet sad songs that has popped up in the BRMC catalog. A centerpiece for the album and a fantastic example of how BRMC do some of the best modern folk songs around.

Aya isn’t bad, but it kinda gets old after a while. The bass is cool though and the lyrics are interesting.

Shadow’s Keeper is what they used to close the STL show with and wow, did they go off on the end part.  It was awesome. The track itself has awesome bass riff, cool guitar fills and a chaotic ending that is even better live. Fantastic track.

Long Way Down is alright. Robert is getting better at piano though.

Half State is very long, but has fantastic guitar. If you get stoned, the longness doesn’t matter, because you will be so sucked into the fuzzed guitars and at Peter howling “There’s a fire in the road”. The album ends with distorted guitar, howling lyrics, and thumping bassline. What more can you really want?

While this is not as great as Baby 81 (sorry dudes, that album was so fucking great), it’s got enough stand out tracks to not be a slump. And while it’s not the best, keep in mind these dudes just replaced long term drummer Nick Jago with that chick from the Ravonettes. Yeah, she can play drums, but it’s gonna take time to break her in. Since I saw her kill during the show, I’m pretty sure the next album the band does should top this one. As long as they don’t do the Effects of 333 again. Sorry dudes, but that album was a fucking waste of time. This album is a step in the right direction though. Keep it up.

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