On May the 9th, black midi released their brand new single, Welcome to Hell. The tune is an opener taken from their upcoming 3rd studio album, Hellfire, which they announced simultaneously, along with new Japan and US tour dates.
It has been almost a year now since their critically acclaimed Cavalcade. Their sophomore LP was quite different from their first release, Schlagenheim, exchanging the noisy, glitchy sound of guitars for more concentrated and cohesive compositions, filled both with the grandeur of saxophone and trumpets supporting the hefty guitar riffs on tracks like John L, as well as with moody and eerily mixed sounds of guitar and harp on Diamond Stuff. It was a very refreshing shift, proving black midi are really pushing forward, still looking to upgrade their already iconic sound. Hellfire will not disappoint those who have grown to like the direction the band has taken. The crazy trio of Londoners have been teasing new singles for quite some time now, posting misleading tweets about the upcoming album and crowd-checking new compositions during their on-going tour, so most of the fans have already had the chance to get a taste of what’s to come on the brand new album. But that was simply adding fuel to the fire of excitement. Now it is time.
‘Hellfire’ our Third Album for @roughtraderecords is out July 15 – Produced by Marta Salogni, Co-Produced by Max ‘Sizzle’ Goulding and Engineered by Dani Bennett Spragg. Artwork by David Rudnick, Emiel Penninckx and Maharani Yasmine Putri.— black midi (@bmblackmidi) May 9, 2022
Preorder here: https://t.co/Ny3e4EbNs2 pic.twitter.com/NOZmPcNoLK
Welcome to Hell instantly creates a very prominent atmosphere with its opening, chromatic, 4-note riff. Simple yet so effective, its dynamics remind us of an ever-spinning carousel. It sets the perfect stage for the dramatic and nasal voice of Greep chanting Listen! as he personifies a navy commander, encouraging his overly emotional soldier to take advantage of the entertainment offered by his shore leave. The verse is laid on two interchanging main melodies, one of them driving and concrete, the other sounding almost like some kind of mockery, with its clown-like qualities. The repetitive riff and dramatic lyrics paint a picture of pure madness.
Visions of red rooms, green tables, and women without names are all laid out before Private Bongo [the main character of the upcoming album] to counter the insufferable reality of military service. As we move onto the bridge with more strummed out melodies on the guitar and long swells of accordion, Geordie, moves away from the dramatic descriptions to tackle the topic of mindset installed into soldiers, shedding a light on mechanisms that lye underneath the, so much glorified, fight for your country. By justifying murder with the inevitability of death, the commander tries to convince the reluctant private that it is the right thing to do.
Out of nowhere, we’re pulled back into the madhouse of the main riff, which leads us up to the most exciting musical part of the song, break. Black midi makes use of the newly acquired force of the wind section to deliver a very visual part, which certainly brings to mind this „stranded at the foot of Hell’s gates” vibe. And that’s where we land right away. The verse riffs are starting to madden as we go, feeling as though they’re picking up in speed, changing stumming patterns, keeping the song engaging. Thumping more and more with every bar, driving bass, nutty piano passages, and the ominous voice of Geordie once again create the symphony straight out of hell. Just when you might think it is the end, bm comes together once again for the almost twice as fast and insane finale, brutal both in sound as in vocal delivery and lyrics.
With brief flashbacks of the previous parts, though played in double time, only to slow down yet again, black midi presents one of the most exciting compositions out there. Morgan Simpson’s groove and timing are immaculate; one of the world’s best drummers at the moment. Together with black midi’s unconventional songwriting, creative production from Marta Salogni, Welcome to Hell stands tall as the first taste and opening to their upcoming LP.
Speaking about the new album, Greep said: „If Cavalcade [their last album] was a drama, Hellfire is like an epic action film.” From what we know so far, lyrical dramatism is going to be at the forefront of this project, tackling issues of distinguishing right from wrong and distortion applied to our sense of justice in the modern world. On the lyrical content, Greep commented: „Almost everyone depicted is a kind of scumbag. Almost everything I write is based on a true event, something I experienced and exaggerated and wrote down. I don’t believe in Hell, but all that old world folly is great for songs. ”
Still, among all these atrocities we need to brace ourselves for, there will be moments of relief and counterpart themes. As the bassist, Cameron Picton, mentions, „There’s a lot of love and things like that on Hellfire. There’s a tender flipside to every song. The dark comes out strongly, there’s Hell and Satan and murder and unsavoury things, but every song has both light and dark. ” From what the guys are saying, it is going to be a very exciting release, so mark your calendars. black midi – Hellfire, out July 15.
In the meantime, there are still new tracks to check out. In March, the band released Cavalcovers, a sort of musical appendix to their latest album. On this EP, black midi deliver their own renditions of the classic King Crimson 21st Century Schizoid Man, as well as Taylor Swift’s Love Story and Captain Beefheart’s Moonlight on Vermont. All three are very different and refreshing. There are even two bonus tracks, which you can get by subscribing to the band’s mailing list. Something to lighten the wait for the upcoming journey depicted in Hellfire.