I’m going to start this review by saying that it’s a review of the album “Lilith” itself and isn’t going to cover the 2014 “Uncovered” EP that comes tacked onto the end of the physical release – as good as it is. At the end of the tour cycle for 2015’s second album “Take It Like a Man”, drummer Chris Warner got engaged and stepped aside to be eventually replaced by Chase Brickenden. There was talk in interview build up to the album recording that the band were planning to introduce some darker atmospheres and engage with their PJ Harvey influence, unlike with “Take It Like a Man” where it was claimed they would be taking a Thrashier approach. In truth, sonically the album sits comfortably in the space between the bands 2013 debut “Goliath” and its follow up, rather than being a forward step. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it plays to the bands strengths while also giving the fans what they want to hear. It’s not until the later half of the album that the experiments start to come into play and they are a little bit hit and miss.
The album opens up strongly with “Burn The Straw Man” which sounds like a “Goliath” era song and more classically Butcher Babies than any of their newer material. The album then steps into title track “Lilith” which lyrically touches on the Lady Bathory tale. It’s a more atmospheric song which utilizes the dual headed beast that is Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd’s story telling ability. This should set the tone for the remainder of the album. It’s heavy, has a strong groove soaked in emotion, sexuality and even turmoil. Instead we dive into “Headspin” which is a solid, catchy number that is slightly out of place. It’s the equivalent of “Thrown Away” on “Take It Like a Man”, a clear radio or video single that has more clean vocals and a chorus designed for the sing along. “Korova” is another strong song, again built on the foundations of the earlier material that appears here. It’s clean sung chorus lines “We can live forever, But if we die, we die together, Run with me, Run with me” are built for the sing-a-long. “#iwokeuplikethis” continues this trend – so half a decent album at this point and this is where the experimentation starts to kick in.
“The Huntsman” is very much the PJ Harvey dark, atmospheric with a slow build, lyrically suggesting a past abusive relationship. It’s not that it’s a bad song, more that it’s badly placed in the sequence, putting the hand break on the momentum that built through the first five songs and sucking some of the energy out. Now the way around this would have been to step it back up immediately, but instead “Controller” appears. It’s frankly the worst Butcher Babies song around, period. Lyrically it’s as daft as a brush and sonically it’s distinctly average. “Oceana” and “Look What We’ve Done” pick it up gradually, both building slowly through much stronger lyrical content and darker atmospheres, heavy and serious. Think about the slower parts in “Grim Sleeper” and you have the general idea. “POMONA (Shit Happens)” then brings us back full circle to the strength of the first five songs. It’s potty mouthed tongue-in-cheek headbanging fun. Closer “Underground and Overrated” is also an insanely strong song that bounces along with energy and verve. So overall we have a mixed bag. Headbanging classic Butcher Babies tunes on seven of your eleven tracks that aren’t that much of a departure from the bands previous efforts. Then we have three slower building more experimental songs which are interesting but not well placed in the order of the album. And “Controller” which can just be thrown away. Overall it’s a solid album that has a soft middle. Perhaps a different Producer could have given it a lift – certainly, moving the songs around a bit gives it a better flow. [4/5]
1. Burn The Straw Man
6. The Huntsman
9. Look What We’ve Done
10. POMONA (Shit Happens)
11. Underground and Overrated