On their emergence a decade ago, Black Rebel defied the zeitgeist by being a proper rock’n’roll band – all black leathers, dry ice and sleazy riffage. But since then, the trio have somewhat lost their way creatively. ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’ sees a shift back to the fiery songwriting of their debut. The title track and opener is BRMC at their finest: hooky, lazily cool and pleasingly heavy. Sadly it’s a false dawn; from here on, the record descends into a semi-continuous, grinding dirge. ‘Evol’ typifies this: overlong, one-paced and self-indulgent. In the album’s midst, the folky, gospel-like ‘Sweet Feeling’s Gone’ is like throwing open the windows of a dark, smoky room and letting the music breathe; ‘Aya’, meanwhile, is a blistering, acerbic aural assault. But it’s just not enough. The dreary ‘Half-State’ drags the record to a long-overdue close.

By Chris Watkeys

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