“I’m a rotting relic of rock ‘n’ roll,” sings Harriet Bevan of UK group Black Moth. Considering that they’re relatively new, they formed at the end of the last decade, that lyric might come as a surprise. However, Black Moth combines the heavy stoner riffage of Black Sabbath with the scrappy intensity of the Stooges. This is as close to raw power as it gets. And even though the sounds are remotely similar to each other, there’s a lot of fun within Condemned to Hope‘s grooves. The guitars stab with brooding precision, and everything is at a sludgy mid-tempo, so much so that this is music for you to roll around in the mud and get dirty to. So, while Black Moth aren’t the most original group around, they’re one of the most stimulating. The interplay between a female vocalist with a distinctly male metal sound gives the disc a shot of gravitas. Plus, you gotta love a band who hires THE Roger Dean (of Yes fame) to do the cover artwork.
A pity then about some of the lyrics, as they verge on being unintentionally funny. “You might as well be speaking in tongues for all I understand,” wails Bevan, and that’s true. “Your eyes say rock ‘n’ roll / But your breath says pepperoni / Baby, you’re the one for me,” goes a line in “Tumbleweave”. Ugh! How about this? “Crack an egg on my breast, love.” Honestly, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Is this supposed to be metal? I suppose one could just say that this is a band with a sense of humor, but, frankly, given the ferociousness of the material, it doesn’t work well. Still, for headbangers who like to bash their heads really slowly, Condemned to Hope will do the trick. The heavy riffs are suitably heavy in that ’70s metal kind of way, and there are plenty of them to go around here. It’s just that the lyrics are so horribly bad, that one’s enjoyment of the material gets knocked down a notch if you’re listening to this way too closely. A good time here, but not much more than that, alas.