The Black Heart Procession - Six
Richard Wink 25/10/2009
Former members of cult indie band Three Mile Pilot make up The Black Heart Procession, a morbid gathering of Mark Lanegan / Tom Waits inspired misery. They write murder ballads, bleak soul searching songs that talk of suicide, loss and despair. This is depressing stuff, without any hint of sunlight or smiles.
The problem is they lack Lanegan's wounded heroin allure, or the phantasmagoria wit of Waits. It appears The BHP are being serious, but the ridiculousness of their artistic despair, flowing like black tar, completely ruins the atmosphere of the album. Six is not an album that genuinely haunts and unsettles like Joy Division's Closer, Bonnie Prince Billy's I see a Darkness, Nico's The Marble Index or Neil Young's Tonight's the Night. Neither is the blackness dramatically playful like with the output of The Cure, Norwegian Black Metal (one or two murders and church burnings aside) or the cinematic style of Tim Burton.
Having a track listing that consists of 13 songs, and picking song titles such as 'Rats', 'Drugs' and 'Suicide' just seems a bit too predictable. You might expect that of a teeny bobbing Goth or metal band, but from a bunch of seasoned musical veterans - puh-lease!
Each track is over the top, frankly laughable and highly derivative of something else, from the Waitsian ramshackle rhythms of 'Wasteland', to the hammer horror piano lines that walk alongside the bleak narrative of 'When You Finish Me'. It's all a bit 'woe is me', and though I can fully understand plights of addicts and the depressed, I'm fully aware that more accurate accounts of dark times don't revert to such tired clichés.
Six should be a perfect listening during these early unforgiving winter nights; however the album is a grim slog and upon repeated listens its limitations become more and more apparent.