Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Howl (2005)

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Howl (2005)

Postby othercourt » Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:55 am

Just picked this up about 3 days ago. It is the 3rd album by the band (the first being B.R.M.C. from 2001, the second is Take Them On, On Your Own, 2003). I haven't gotten to the 4th and 5th Albums yet (Baby 81 in 2007 and The Effects of 333, an all-instrumental released in 2008), but will with time. I feel a little bad about letting my BRMC collection slide over the last few years. They are one of my favorite groups - I should have treated them better.

Howl is a much more stripped down, folksy/spiritual/blues/rock album compared with the first two offerings. Songs still have a very rock-oriented structure, although the breaks and changes are less conventional than might be expected.

The title track, Howl, is by far the strongest song of the bunch. The vocals are dynamic and strong, and although the structure is uncomplicated it doesn't get old, no matter how many times I listen to it. The playing is true-to-roots and solid all the way through.

The two other stand-out tracks are Still Suspicion Holds You Tight, and Sympathetic Noose. These two songs seem to encompass the sound the band has fostered over their first two albums. They still figured out how to make them work in the pared-down landscape of Howl, though, and I think that's noteworthy.

Gospel Song is a gentle track that explores some new ground for BRMC, with nice changes throughout. Ain't No Easy Way seems like a weaker pass at previous material, though it would seem stronger coming from a band I had lower expectations for. Restless Sinner will make the old-school blues fans smile, played cleanly on acoustic guitar; the vocals seemed a tad rushed to me, though. Another blues tune is Devil's Waitin, which holds together better.

All in all, Howl is worth the price of admission. Most notable is the band's superior use of in-song changes, which keep each track nimble and interesting, if only for its technical merits. Also worth mentioning is that Howl was recorded nearly in its entirety without the original drummer, Nick Jago, who had become estranged from the band (Jago returned to record Baby 81, but was fired before their European Tour to support the 4th Album).

I am greatly looking at getting my hands on Baby 81, which is a return to the heavier, earlier BRMC sound.

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