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black midi - Hellfire CD (album) cover


black midi



4.07 | 157 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars It is that time of the year again where we get a release from a band that just seemed to appear out of thin air. I am a sucker for black midi. Their style of post punk, Avant Prog, and jazz fusion is some of the wildest and down right insane I have heard in a band, even rivaling the weird stuff King Crimson did in the 70s. They ended up landing a place in my heart with their music so when I was excited to see this release come out this year. In tandem with An Hour Before It's Dark, Closure / Continuation, and Vaxis II; Hellfire was one of my most anticipated album of this year. I was pumped and ready to experience the wild, magical, and lunatic world of black midi once more.

The album starts with Hellfire, the title track obviously. It is more of an introductory piece to the album. It's Greep sing talking about some man who is so incredibly lazy that his body never grows anything anymore, and he is losing more than what he has already. Obviously the tried and true black midi weirdness is apparent in this song with the background instrumental being a weird marching band like tune being played over Greep's insanely weird vocals. Where their last album, Cavalcade, perfected the band's weird sound, Hellfire continues it even more impressively.

The next song is Sugar/Tzu. This is a song about a boxing match that goes insanely wrong because of an evil little girl shooting one of the boxer's in the back. The story is as crazy as the song, combining extremely obtuse fusion playing and drumming that is just insane. It feels like a boxing match from hell, especially the part when the horns are going all weird and fast, like they are beating you up in the ring. It is crazy how well they managed to create the feeling of being beaten to a pulp without trying for a heavier sound, instead they beat you up with insanity. This album truly is hell already, because with hell there is chaos, and with chaos there is insanity, and insanity and black midi is like bread and butter.

Speaking of bread and butter, next up is Eat Men Eat. This is stylized as a western drama where a cowboy couple gets invited into a mine that is basically a trap for them to be poisoned and turned to fuel where at the end they escape and kill the captain of the mines, who then curses them with?choice words. Yeah, if I had a nickel for everytime an artist made an album that had a certain word in it that came out this year, I'd have two nickels, which isn't a lot but it's definitely weird it happened twice. That aside, I really freaking love this song. It gives me a good outlaw country vibe mixed with the fusion lunacy the band specializes in. The drums, the guitar, and the horns, they just make an atmosphere that I never thought could sound so good. I wouldn't mind an album by the band that was basically this sound, because it's really good. Aside from THAT word, the song is another hit from the band.

I was definitely waiting to talk about this song. Welcome To Hell, the lead single of the album is just a masterpiece. I know I am talking highly positively on the last two songs, but this can even rival the amazing spectacle of John L. It is so raw and insane that it turns into something only black midi could do. It is essentially a song about an online stalker who is creepy to a girl, basically being a creepy incel to her, with the music video making it more otherworldly and almost evangelical. It is so freaking jazzy and oddball that it sounds like several songs rolled into one, and they managed to make it sound so natural that it is absolutely absurd how this band hasn't won a Grammy yet, because this is just fantastic.

Obviously at this point we are getting beaten down by some insane melodies, so it was nice to hear Still. Have you ever wondered what the band would sound like if they made a beach album? Well look no further than this song. It is the most tropical and summer feeling song the band has made. Obviously they do like to sprinkle in some craziness, especially towards the middle, but for the most part this is a calm and soothing ride that gives me some nice and cool vibes throughout it, which I enjoy quite a bit.

The next song is an interlude called Half Time. I think this is a good time to reflect on the album so far, and I gotta say, this definitely is one of the best releases of 2022 so far. Right at this moment I feel no shame in saying that I have no complaints right now for this album. While some albums definitely were great but had a few issues, this one feels perfect by just how it is, and so far it isn't even the longest album, but that's basically ok since these songs are good enough in my opinion that saying they should be longer undermines them profusely. Heck I think they are perfectly fine where they sit at the moment. At this halfway point, I cannot wait for the next song already.

Next is The Race Is About To Begin, and wow is it a race. It is so fast and wild and it just gets faster to where you can just feel the band getting exhausted just playing it until it all crashes and becomes a light acoustic ballad towards the end. This song is actually interesting since it is essentially telling a story about something that is more normal, and that is someone betting on a horse race and then losing said bet. It definitely feels like a song you'd hear when you have something to lose. It's so wild that after hearing it, I paused the album to really process it. It's like getting into a car crash with your body paralyzed in shock before it all comes crashing back and hitting you like a sledgehammer. It is a rollercoaster of a song, but less of a DisneyLand one and more of something you'd see in a Six Flags built by a psychopathic man who is too deranged to see his own reality, which I think perfectly describes this band as a whole really.

Next up is a sorta ballad-ish song called Dangerous Liaisons. This song is about a farmer who gets tricked by the devil posing as a member of the mafia to kill someone. It starts off pretty quietly and almost somber like, but when the farmer realizes that the man who tricked him was actually the prince of darkness, everything just spirals out of control, musically and lyrically. It feels like you get punched in the gut with dread as the horns blare and everything starts to feel mangled and twisted. All I can say is that you shouldn't trust the mafia, they might be some red guy with a pitchfork.

This is surprisingly the most normal song on the album, a lot less weird and more straight forward. This is also the shortest track on the album so I guess they were going for something a bit more tension breaking than something overly chaotic, which I like. The song is about a pimp with a god complex who realizes that he is going to hell and his girls aren't. Gotta love those songs with nice melodies and a good setup that has some dark lyricism, and one that really shows how much an ego can get you. Another nice work as usual.

And now the last song, 27 Questions. black midi is sort of a modern day King Crimson in a lot of aspects, heck they even made a cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man. This song is basically a tribute to the ever so stunning crimson kings with a story about a man named Freddy Frost who can be portrayed as King Crimson as a whole, something so old that life doesn't touch it, yet still extremely modern that even death may never reach it due to the internet and also because of a certain manga that is pretty popular. Also if you are wondering, yes there are 27 questions and I have no idea how to answer them. Like yeah the sun will burn out one day but how am I supposed to answer 'Intangibly dressed, invisibly seamed?' Like what? This is why I love this band, they make the best music around and stories but also pull stuff like this that really shows you that they truly are having a great time.

This is a strong contender for the best album this year due to how good it is. Super jazzy, weird, and just all around a must listen for basically any music fan. It isn't overly long and it is a perfectly sizable amount of songs to work your way through. A certified INSTANT hood classic.

Dapper~Blueberries | 5/5 |


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