In 2011, iconic Anglo.Afro.Russian death.blues outfit Bleak redefined rock’n’roll for a generation with their game changing juggernaut of a debut album For The Good Of The Nation. In the five long years since then, little has been heard from one of the most exciting London bands to have emerged this century. Occasionally, most often at Halloween, they would surface for one of their infamous incendiary live shows, and 2014’s Drinking Song single showed what might have been had they kept it together long enough to release a second album, but as the wait went on many began to suspect that the chaos that made them such a mercurial force of nature had finally consumed them.
Back from the brink of madness, Bleak have risen from a grave of their own making and returned with Dig Two Graves, an album so raw and powerful it eclipses even their own legendary debut. Never before have the band so effectively lived up to their name. This is not easy listening, this is the uncompromising sound of the blues played as if their lives depended on it.
This is an album that demands to be listened to from start to finish, a rare thing an era where attention spans are shrinking and music is increasingly consumed by shuffling streamers. This record is a journey, which explodes out of the blocks with live favourite 30% Wolf and then plunges you into the abyss, taking you further and further into the band’s dark minds until the gut wrenching finale
The Death of Bessie Smith gives way to a chink of hope shining through The Longest Night.
Along the way, songs both familiar and new are packed with surprises, with fan favourite 3 Days of Hell, written about the 2011 Tottenham riots, throwing a gospel choir into the mix to spectacular effect. Elsewhere the band attempt a wider range of styles than ever before such as the intoxicating tango of The Final Nail and the unexpectedly catchy duet Perfect.
But perhaps the biggest and most welcome surprise, other than the fact that the record has finally seen the light of day, is the fact that all three core members take turns with lead vocals. Fans are now quite used to bassist Rachel Woodworth singing the spiritual tinged Ebb & Flow which was originally featured on the B side of Drinking Song but her vocals are featured throughout this record and provide the perfect contrast to Anton’s snarling delivery. Powerhouse drummer Yvonne Okoduwa even steps out from behind her kit to take a turn at the mic on the acoustic lament Bones and does a great job; hopefully we’ll hear more from her on the next record!
Completing the line up for this release is guitarist AP Clarke who joins the band live for one night only on Halloween 2016 when Dig Two Graves is finally released on Screamlite Records.
Bleak’s sophomore album Dig Two Graves is released on Halloween 31 October 2016 on Screamlite Records and is available from Bandcamp.