If you’re going to make doomy stoner rock powered by ear-blasting guitar riffs, you could do worse than reference Black Sabbath with your band name. For Electric Wizard this meant jamming the tiles of two Sabbath tracks together, while in Mother Mooch’s case, their moniker was derived from “a misheard Black Sabbath lyric”. We at GoldenPlec couldn’t figure out which one they meant. But it’s possible this doesn’t really matter so much
After all, the fuzz-rock five piece are far more than mere Sabbath imitators. Their hard-edged rock sound owes equal debt to much of the punk, metal, grunge and stoner verities of rock that came in Ozzy and Co.’s wake (Kyuss and the Melvins come to mind straight away). But what Mother Mooch do that the Birmingham doom merchants did before them is conjure up a palpable sense of atmosphere across their album.
‘Nocturnes’ – the Dublin band’s debut LP – unleashes itself with slow, measured deliberation, treading its way through a series of jagged guitar songs with a distinctly mournful tone. A lot of this is down to the muscular vocal delivery of lead singer Chloë Ní Dhúada. On the languid Into the Water she leads the band through a slowly unfolding misery-ballad that oozes doom, while on L.H.O.O.Q she gets to amp up the punk intensity while still maintaining a certain chilly reserve. And behind all this is a steady barrage of heavy riffage, as on Misery Hill and Hive Mind which both delve deep into stoner rock territory with glacial heft.
But amid all this heavy, downbeat noise-making there’s a subtle bluesy groundwork laid out that might not even be evident on the first few listens were it not for the fact that ‘Nocturnes’ closes on a psychedelic cover of Rory Gallagher’s cover of Lead Belly’s Out on the Western Plain. It’s an interesting addition, in that it invites a bit of reconsideration of everything that came before by paying tribute to an influence that otherwise wouldn’t have been entirely obvious. But once the blues is brought into things, it’s hard not to see that there’s an underlying depth to the whole album that is highly bluesy in nature – behind the relatively simple song structure there’s a concentrated effort of arrangement and technique, and behind the forceful vocal delivery there’s a dedication to honest storytelling.
This may be, in fact, why ‘Nocturnes’ manages so successfully to conjure up such a melancholy, introspective atmosphere across its eight tracks.