Album Review: black midi // Hellfire

Black midi are one of the most intriguing prospects in the flourishing UK post rock scene, and have picked up a huge cult following to boot.

the quartet emerged from the Windmill / Wunderground melting pot of art punk, post rock and prog, all under the watchful eye of producer extraordinaire Dan Carey. Italian producer Marta Salogni takes the reins for Hellfire, following her work on 2021’s extraordinary Cavalcade.

Hellfire is a daunting prospect at first, the lyrical themes of religion and afterlife tie into a broader, overarching feeling of nihilism and existentialism that is prevalent throughout. These lyrical themes are, of course, accompanied by a vibrant mixture of industrial math rock, acid jazz, sludgy punk and euphoric psychedelia. The vast range in the albums lyrics, vocals & instrumentation is, of itself, a tribute to the sheer musical ability of this band.

When it comes to pure talent, you must look no further than Morgan Simpson on the drums – his timekeeping allows black midi to play so wildly with time signatures, Simpson’s knack for sharp, extravagant fills compliments his impeccable rhythm. He’s key to black midi, and his chemistry with Greep and Picton allows the latter to write monumental soundscapes of such stature.

Such soundscapes are commonplace on Hellfire, as in much of bm’s back-cat: take ‘The Race is About to Begin’, Simpson’s engine as a drummer guides the industrial, brutalist rock at the start of the track, before whipping his bandmates into glorious rhythm. The jazzier cuts work too, again with the talented guitarists marching to Morgan’s beat.

‘Welcome to Hell’ is the most apt name for any album released this decade, as the combination of maximalist paranoia in the lyrics and head spinning instrumental gear-changes feel like the descent into a musical panic-attack, as the listener is engulfed in cacophonous, avant garde post-rock.

black midi are a truly generational band – and their distilled talent allows them to be fresh and invigorating with every release. As the group grow in prowess and confidence, the music grows in complexity and intrigue. black midi are a band writing themselves into music lore with each fascinating album.

photo credit: Atiba Jefferson

Author avatar
Charlie Brock

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