“I’ve had enough of rock n roll, it took my body, but it left my soul”.

Pete Spiby is kidding no one, to be fair. He might sing those words on “Rock n Roll”, but lets forget the sentiment.

Put simply, The Black Spiders are – as I wrote the other week when I reviewed the EP that preceded this – back, baby.

Now, that means more riffs than you can count, more lead breaks than you can conceive, and crucially, a lyrical bent that no one else has.

Back in the day, on all those singles I bought (I even was one of the Pledgers on the first album and appear on the thanks list if I recall), for every “Stay Down”, there was a “Kiss Tried To Kill Me” a real, “he didn’t just sing that, did he?” moment.  Well, he did, and he does here too, on the ludicrous (but ludicrously brilliant) “Back In The Convent”, which merrily deadpans  “brother Pete, paying a visit”, and which, does if such a thing means anything to you, boast what we might call, the classic Black Spiders sound.

That is to say, the band – to me anyway – always had the air of Motorhead playing Sabbath songs. They still do. If you were a fan, like me, of the band then you won’t be able to suppress a grin at the first notes of “Fly In Your Soup” , a song that deals with tiny little irritants in life, but which could only have been the Black Spiders.

Of course, while the sound is all present and correct, the members weren’t (Si Atkinson on drums was replaced by Wyatt Wendels) and it was 2020, and we all know what 2020 meant. In practice, it meant the band hadn’t been together until they got to the studio with Matt Elliss (their long standing Producer) they hadn’t played the songs together (second guitarist Mark Thomas lives in Spain and had to record his parts remotely. Now, I am sure that presented incredible challenges, and to have it sounding the way it does in that respect is unbelievable, but – and I know this might make me a philistine – it doesn’t matter. Not to me. All I want to do is play the sodding thing loud.

And that’s always been the case with the band. “Stabbed In The Back” boasts a rare energy, and is one of the finest thins they’ve ever done, but this band has always been about the gear changes and “Wizard Shall Not Kill Wizard” is almost doom, and if “Give Em What They Want” is perhaps well named, it is still rock music from the top draw.

The cover of “Good Times” – the lead song on the EP – is going to go down a storm when/if they ever play it live, and its tempting to see the glee with which Spiby delivers the line “everything’s gonna be alright” as something of a statement.

Capable of some thunderous moments, “Death Comes Creepin’” for example, could comfortably sit on an Orange Goblin record, while “Nothing Better” adds some harmonies in a way that you never expected.

“Free Ride” starts like Motley’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and while it might have a bit of sleaze (“leave your keys in the bowl” suggests the lyrics) it has its own agenda, but then Black Spiders always did. The backing vocals here are surely to try new things, and that’s laudable.

“No Luck No Bones” sounds like a 60s outcast that’s still in some commune doing acid, while Ozzy Lister’s slide guitar on “Down To The River” is a revelation. Oh and hippies? You need not apply here, frankly.

Even for this album – one which just seems like anything goes was the motto “Crooked Black Wings” is a surprise, seeing as for more of less seven minutes it casts them as Vikings. To be fair, Grand Magus are looking on in envy when the “Norsemen raise your voices” line hits and “Tunnel Of Love” (I was hoping for a Springsteen cover…….) doesn’t have any excess fat. “It’s exciting, sometimes its frightening” seems like not just a line about love, but the album itself.

True originality is tough, but it’s something Black Spiders have always had. I remember seeing Pete Spiby for the first time when he was the frontman of Groop Dogdrill, and he was wielding a baseball bat for reasons I never did fathom. What I do know is there’s still that air about the music and moreover, that night they were opening for The Wildhearts, and, a line from one of the songs that Ginger and the lads had around that time seems to apply here: “now you’re back, its like you never really went away.” So move over (nearly) everyone else in British Rock, but the Black Spiders are back in town and there’s no one safe.

Rating 9/10

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