Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo

Beat The Devil's Tattoo

I don’t really care if the critics don’t like BRMC, I still do. There’s a lot of talk about “authenticity” when it comes to them. I don’t think BRMC set out to reinvent music. It’s too easy to rip them for being too much like Jesus And Mary Chain, The Stooges or Velvet Underground. A lot of bands pray to those alters. I just happen to think BRMC do it better than most. Some critics think Howl, which was a turn towards blues and country, was their falling off. Some critics think Baby 81, a “return to form”, was. I’m sure Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, which combines all the elements from the previous four albums, will cause other critics to say that this album was the falling off point. Sure, there’s a degree of camp to an album title like Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, and to BRMC themselves. But, I’ve seen them play four times, and they just plain rock. And, so do their albums. It’s really that simple for me. They write good songs that I want to listen to. Everyone is influenced by someone. It’s what they do with it. And, BRMC write good melodies and interesting songs. Now they have a new drumer, Leah Shapiro, who toured with The Raveonettes. So, that has invited more comparisons. Shapiro even sings on “The Toll”, so maybe they’ll do their own “Sometimes Always” (the J&MC / Hope Sandoval duet). Over the past five albums, they’ve settled into a nice groove where you know what you’re going to get with each album.

Let’s take the songs off Beat The Devil’s Tattoo:

The Bluesy Ones: “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo”, “River Styx”
The J&MC Ones: “Conscience Killer”, “Bad Blood”, “Evol”, “Mama Taught Me Better”, “Shadow’s Keeper”
The Dirge Ones: “War Machine”, “Aya”
The Country Ballad Ones: “Sweet Feeling”, “The Toll”, “Long Way Down”
The Epic 10 Minute One: “Half-State”

There’s plenty of lyrics about “your bones are breaking” (Beat The Devil’s Tattoo), “I’m a preacher with a gun” (Conscience Killer), “as you walk out the door, my heart slips on the floor” (Evol), ” Oh, you’re so afflicted, your love keeps burning, it brings me down (Mama Taught Me Better), “Will you lay me down inside Heaven’s walls” (River Styx). You get the picture.

That’s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Gritty, gothic psych-rock, and sneering vocals. Feedback, slide guitar, and dark lyrics. Maybe a little twang thrown in. You either can get over the reference points or not. I’ve read some people ask why BRMC should exist. I’m happy they do, because it means I have more good music to listen to and enjoy.


River Styx


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