Pinning down the sound of up and coming band black midi is a hard feat. Taking influences from math, noise, experimental rock, post-punk, and even jazz, their debut LP Schlagenheim is a manic journey into a band with a promising future ahead of them. This four piece group of youngsters from London met at BRIT School in Croydon, England. Releasing the two singles Crows Nest and Talking Heads leading up to Schlagenheim, the group gave listeners a taste of an album that may soon be known as a classic.
With only nine tracks and a forty-three minute run time, Schlagenheim consists of songs that range in pace from eight minute slow burns to songs like Near DT, MI which slap you in the face right from the get-go. Even though there are slow burning tracks, they only increase in intricacy as they progress. This is beautifully demonstrated in the most ballad-esque track, Western, which features a fantastic beat switch around the halfway point in the song.
Each track features some of the best guitar work I’ve heard all year and without a doubt the best percussion performance this year from drummer Morgan Simpson. This is easily understandable when you learn Simpson actually won UK Young Drummer of the Year 2014 at the mere age of fifteen. Though each track is incredibly memorable both from the strange vocal delivery of Geordie Greep and the insane instrumentation, the album does suffer from a few minor flaws.
First and foremost, Greep has one of the strangest vocal performances I’ve ever heard. Even though I’ve listened to this album multiple times, I still can’t say I’m head over heels for his vocal delivery. To top this, songs like Near DT, MI and Speedway feature main vocals from bassist Cameron Picton instead of Greep, which honestly I wish there were more of because I enjoy the diversity in voice. Another minor issue I have with the album is the lack of choruses and hooks. Though I don’t find it completely necessary for an album to contain this song structure, I do think it would help some of the lengthier tracks if they stood out from a catchy hook/chorus standpoint, rather than strange vocal delivery, lyricism, and instrumentation perspective.
With all this being said, Schlagenheim is a one of a kind album and I truly can’t wait to hear the band evolve over time. If they continue to produce quality albums like this one, I can see them becoming one of my top five favorite bands of all time.
Favorite Tracks: 953, Speedway, Reggae, Near DT, MI, Western, Of Schlagenheim, bmbmbm, Ducter