BLACK MAMBAS: MODERATION

October 27th, 2017 | Album reviews

BLACK MAMBAS
Moderation
Disconnected Records

While these savage young men may hail from Bell Gardens, their scope is absolutely international—you can hear the Kids from Belgium, the Saints from Australia, England’s Eddie and the Hot Rods and the Zero Boys from the USA as immediate touchstones, all on a high speed chase where any second wasted could mean crashing into a police roadblock. (And as these guys say in a coming interview: “We’ve never actually been caught!”) On their second full-length, Black Mambas themselves have turned up the heat instead of the heat turning up on them, supercharging their original vision of modern pub rock into an out-of-control needles-in-the-red wild ride—arguably even wilder than their classic Wild Records days. The first two tracks “Saturday Night Fist Fight” and “Up All Night” let you know their lifestyle has bled into the album, as producer Johnny Witmer (The Stitches, The Crazy Squeeze) masterfully distills the excitement of their live shows onto wax without sounding “contained”—instead, waves of guitar pressure-cook each explosive solo. The title track “Moderation” drips with defiant irony in the chorus—“DOING DRUGS! WITH NO MODERATION… NOW!!!”—and “End Game” chronicles rogue lovers en la noche: “Star-crossed lovers, meeting in the twilight / Making love in the middle of the night / I can’t be seen with you / You can’t be seen with me!” The album’s closer is also its most explosive tune: “Vatican Prayer” is a take-no-prisoners commentary on religion and violence, proving these guys aren’t just nihilistic for selfish reasons. It’s merely a sane response to a world that has spun politically and spiritually off its goddamned axis.

—Gabriel Hart