Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast
Specter at the Feast is the sixth album from this long-standing San Franciscan three-piece. With its name alluding to the haunted theme running through the tracks (possibly inspired by the recent loss of bassist Robert Been’s father), the album also calls up spectres of the 90s with strong overtones of big grunge rock.
Slow-burning opening track Fire Walker sets the tone with a steady stride, followed by a successful update of The Call’s 1989 track Let the Day Begin, off which they peel the 80s veneer and add 90s grunge guitar and all the quality of a U2 anthem.
The album quickly begins to feel a bit stodgy with the sombre track Returning, and Lullaby suffers from a metronome-strict rhythm of military snare. But things pick up with the superb Hate the Taste, in which the band funk out with a dirty blues riff and infectious backbeat, but here, as with much of the album, they could afford to let rip more. Perhaps they’re saving that for the live show. The other stand-out track, Rival, sounds similar to begin with but quickly introduces a much grubbier grunge chorus with a bit of the vitriol and gruffness of Nirvana, and soon the comparison with its bluesier neighbour is forgotten, leaving behind a great rock song.
The anger ramps up with the racing Teenage Disease, with snarling lyrics “I’m a total waste” and “I’d rather die” – it’s an anthem adolescents will turn up loud but seems a bit out of place on this album. The atmospheric, spiritual Some Kind of Ghost pacifies with its Deep South twang, though more could surely have been made of this track, which finishes before it has really gone anywhere. End track Lose Yourself has a melancholy yearn and a tender touch but is so very long, at 8 minutes 40.
It’s not really clear who the album is aimed at, although most of the tracks will certainly go down a storm played loud in a live setting. The recording, though, is slightly underwhelming – more rebellion required.
Specter at the Feast is released on 18th March 2013. For further information or to order the album visit Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s website here.