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Double Negative

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Album Review

If a band ever deserved to be on a label named In the Red, it would be Black Time. They smack listeners upside the head with almost ridiculous amounts of distortion and cave-dwelling reverb — so much so that it can take a while to get to the snotty, witty garage-punk hiding with the din. It would be easy to accuse a band with such a noisy yet stark sound of repeating itself on each album, but that's not the case: Blackout was more or less straight-up garage-blues-punk, albeit put through a sonic shredder; Midnight World ratcheted the noise up even further and added some art damage; and Double Negative is artfully crude, lightening up on the skronk just enough to let other sounds (and even melodies!) peek through. This might be Black Time's most clearly recorded album, but it's still incredibly harsh, with onslaughts like "Problems" and the fittingly deranged "Institution" proving the band's devotion to distortion. They continue to crank out pissed-off songs in the shape of Detroit garage-punk from the '60s to the 2000s — there's more than a touch of Stooges howl in "The Days Are Too Long and the Nights Are Too Short," while "Little Death" and "Hostile Cosmos" recall newer acts like the Clone Defects just as Blackout and Midnight World did, but with more focus and energy. As good as they are at reanimating the sounds of their influences, Black Time and Double Negative are at their most exciting when they dive into stranger realms, wielding noise and feedback like Jack the Ripper's knife. With its rave-ups and eerie coda, "When the Clock Strikes Twelve" is as gleefully sinister and anarchistic as anything Screaming Lord Sutch recorded, and carries on that veddy British tradition of spooky garage rock. The brief instrumentals "Lunar Rhythm" and "Lunar Eclipse" nod to bouncy '60s sci-fi kitsch, but the album gets truly eclectic with the rockabilly-tinged ballad "Repulsion" and "Skeleton Factory," which, with its choppy beat and buzzy synths, does sound like something that could rip the flesh off of bones. However, the oddest, and possibly best, song is "I'm Gonna Haunt You When I'm Gone," a lone bright, sweet spot of ghostly indie pop among the rest of the album's pitch-black noise. This is easily some of the band's most varied and most listenable music, but as relatively polished and wide-ranging as Double Negative can be, Black Time never forget to be loud — their amps always go up to 12 (or is that midnight?).


Formed: London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Describing their style as "the heavy vampire sound," London's Black Time played heavy, incredibly noisy punk with shots of rockabilly and soul -- Bo Diddley, Link Wray, King Tubby, and Prince were just as influential to them as Suicide, the Birthday Party, and Electric Eels. The band featured guitarist/vocalist Lemmy Caution, bassist/vocalist Janie Too Bad, and drummer Mr. Stix; Caution also played with the even rawer Subway Slims, and played with Too Bad as the duo Sexaphone, while Mr. Stix played...
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Double Negative, Black Time
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