Test no. 1 - What can you hear when not listening?
While rummaging around the living room, looking for something inconsequential, fuzzy guitars and blues rock fill my ears. A voice that doggedly maintains only a handful of notes is determined to test the durability of the microphone. I find what I’m looking for and settle down, though I feel I should be stood up. I’m still trying not to pay attention though, as this is the nature of the first test. Followill? Is that the name of the Kings of Leon singer? Well this chap doesn’t sound a million miles from him, perhaps they went to the same school?
Test no. 2 - What can be heard when listening?
Having managed to sit down for long enough to take in everything, it’s sounds like an album of two halves. Not in the old way, the way that meant you had to think about your listener, but that there’s a pretty even split between chunky, upbeat numbers, and more considered, imaginative brooding that wouldn’t sound too out of place on Josh Homme album. Track six, Starving of the Bee is a prime example of this, combining atonal piano, banjo, acoustic guitar and a two part harmony that lift the track from the rest of the swampy album, begging for attention.
Test no. 3 - When would you listen to it?
If Black Gamble leant more toward to darker, less rocking stuff, it would be perfect for sinister early mornings, or late night train journeys. If the harder stuff contained bigger riffs, it could be there with Clutch or Black Keys for head nodding, good ol’ Southern times. Perhaps a live setting would make for a fairer assessment.
Test no. 4 - Would you listen to it repeatedly?
Having heard hints of other bands already doing the business, there was nothing here that would make me choose Mississippi Witch over them. That being said, I would listen to what they did next and would be looking out for more stuff that explores their darker side, evident already in lyrics that don’t flinch at the sight of blood and decay.
Dark enough to justify repeated listens, not dark enough to replace Murder Ballads or Lullabies to Paralyze. Heavy enough to get the head a rockin’, not riff-tastic enough to knock other famous two-pieces off their perch.