review

Black Midi

Hellfire

Released: 15th July 2022
Label: Rough Trade
Genre: Experimental Rock
It’s no secret – Black Midi are one of the UK’s most exciting and most interesting bands right now.
In the space of just 5 years, the group have released 3 albums of such wide musical and artistic scope, not to mention on the legendary Rough Trade Records, and they’re fast becoming significantly popular across the pond in the USA. And on their 3rd album Hellfire, the group exceed and obliterate everyone’s expectations.
To sum it up in a simple sentence, Hellfire sounds like a panic attack transcribed into musical form – it comes in waves, some subtlety smooth and others violently visceral, and it never stops for a moment to breathe until the very last note on the very last song. It is progressive and experimental rock at its finest, heavily doused in avant jazz, country, and even show tunes.
In songs like The Race Is About to Begin, it sounds as if two cars, one containing avant-garde rock musician Frank Zappa and the other containing the cult pronk band (prog punk) Cardiacs, collide together. It’s both technically and sonically mesmerising. And yet, even on songs where it seems much more slower and easier to keep with, like Eat Men Eat and Dangerous Liaisons, they still find ways to pull you away from your calm state, dragging you back into the madness.
The band’s talents are on clear display on this record – even reading through the ‘Personnel’ section on the album’s Wikipedia page shows the impressive musicality that the trio possess. The album is twice as manic with the help of saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi, who has even collaborated with Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes recently.
Recorded in just 13 days, when bands with this sound typically need months to master the craft, Hellfire is a definite Album Of The Year contender for me, and is definitely their best release yet.

 

Listen to: The Race Is About to Begin, 27 Questions, Welcome to Hell
For fans of: Black Country, New Road, Squid, Cardiacs

 

joe richardson, fopp cambridge

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