One short drumfill. That’s all it takes to bring you back into the Death Rocking world of Mat McNerney (aka Khvost) before Motherblood (Century Media) launches into an uptempo angular, jangly Joy Division-inspired shuffle, and the smile spreads across the lips.
Because, from that outset of ‘Infatuation Overkill’ it becomes evident that, for all the misgivings about the first Grave Pleasures record Dreamcrash (Metal Blade), Motherblood is the follow-up to Beastmilk that every fan of Climax (Metal Blade) wished its predecessor had been.
Dragging their trademark eighties-indoctrinated post-punk through the streets behind them, McNerney and Valteri Arino bring back the urgent sneer and darkened anthems. At every turn there is uptempo bass-pedaling underpinning everything, while Juho Vanhanen and Aleksi Kiiskilä trade licks and reverbed chords as McNerney rediscovers his penchant for an underplayed, but infectious hook.
While it may have been unfair to invite comparisons between Beastmilk and Dreamcrash, and the bands went to pains to stylistically distance themselves where possible on their “debut”, this time around McNerney is waiting with arms open, aware that this is the sister piece to his opus magna. The bands inherent ability to transport back you to the Eighties is impressive, as lyrically McNerney cleverly references the Cold War, atom bombs, genocide and the threat of nuclear acts, references that not only reflect the times of his musical idols, they also draw attention to the current political climate in and amongst the Indie/Gothic romps.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus and Killing Joke are also referenced, and somewhere there’s that old epithet about “stealing from the best” that is being respected and used to very good effect. While retro may have been the “in thing” since, well, Climax, very few do it as well as McNerney and his crew.
Yet, for all the joyful aesthetics, the overriding characteristic of the album is, simple, really… it is full of great songs… Distinctive, outstanding songs (‘Doomsday Rainbows’ is pure Death Rock infection) that are indisputably from the hand of their creator; Gothic hooks over dirty tempos, all perfectly captured in a production that sounds reverential to a bygone time, while still maintain modern values.
All in, Motherblood is blessed with a mighty fine arsenal of top-level songs… more than enough to see Grave Pleasures alright, and to bring them back on track. While not quite at the level of Climax, nonetheless Motherblood is heir extraordinaire, placed at the right hand of the atomic Christ.