Mar 2024 31

Album CoverAttrition
Album: The Black Maria
Category: Darkwave / Industrial / Gothic
Label: Two Gods
Release Date: 2024-03-01
Author: Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)


Martin Bowes and his many accomplices have kept Attrition alive for more than four decades, and while the band’s gothic/industrial sound has gradually evolved in that time, it remains a distinct entity in the genre. Named for a 19th century term, later adopted as slang for police vans, referring to figures who take away outcasts, The Black Maria has had a long gestation period; nevertheless, longtime fans will find their patience justly rewarded as the album sees Attrition bridging its storied past with the present. This is best heard in “The Switch” as the bounce of the analog bass and breakbeat rhythms are supplemented by Anni Hogan’s piano accompaniments, shrill electronic noises, and recitations of “Standing, Falling,” leaving Bowes to share vocal duties with Julia Niblock Waller for the first time in two decades. The same can be said of “The Great Derailer,” its locomotive thrust and haunted ambience belying the dancefloor energy of its rhythmic base; with Black Nail Cabaret’s Emese Arvai-Illes and Bowes sharing vocals and backed by Elisa Day of Hetaira Decrépita, the song follows in the same vein as Attrition favorites like “Acid Tongue” or “Two Gods.” And then we have “The Alibi,” wherein the blend of Bowes’ gritty rasp, Yvette Winkler’s strident melodies, and Joanna Day’s spoken accompaniment is made all the more disconcerting by Ian Arkley’s grinding yet restrained guitar noise, the violins of Marietta Fox and Vancorvid, and Kris Force’s cello, all evoking an insidious yet whimsical cabaret dreamscape.

Other tracks on The Black Maria take a more abstract tone, such as the opening “The Promise” and “The Reprisal,” both featuring swelling segments of synths and arpeggios with distorted cello scrapes waxing and waning like a Doppler effect, distant percussive strikes and sullen violin creating a hollow atmosphere to underscore repetitions of “Be silent. Speak when spoken to.” As well, we have the ethereal industrial throb of “The Zero Hour” as assertive stabs of guitar angrily contrast with the trickling and pensive piano atop a droning synth, a distorted spoken diatribe against hypocrisy and the lack of genuine concern for people culminating in “the voice of truth.” Finally, the waving reverberations of a great machine that permeate “The Pillar II” return in the concluding title track, the familiar Attrition bass gripping the listener amid flutters of violin, guitar, and haunted vocals, the track building to an epic climax and a sudden conclusion. In many regards, The Black Maria is a standard Attrition album – the exchange of neo-classical instrumentation and operatic flourishes with decidedly post-industrial and gothic/rock atmospheres remains intrinsic to the band’s sound, and few execute it with the flair and confidence that Bowes and company have for so many years. Suffice it to say, The Black Maria comes highly recommended to fans and newcomers alike.
Track list:

  1. The Promise
  2. The Great Derailer
  3. The Switch
  4. The Pillar II
  5. The Alibi
  6. The Reprisal
  7. The Zero Hour
  8. The Black Maria

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