Shine In The Dark – The Filthy Tongues LP review

filthytonguesThe Filthy Tongues – Jacob’s Ladder (Blokshok)

The Filthy Tongues have a long and celebrated career stretching back through Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, Angelfish and Isa & the Filthy Tongues.

The second Isa & the Filthy Tongues LP ‘Dark Passenger’ was released as far back as 2010 so a new record from the band has been overdue for a wee while.

The good news is that the new record, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is at last imminent but now that the band are slimmed down to the core trio Martin Metcalfe, (guitar/vocals), Fin Wilson (bass) and Derek Kelly (drums), it has the rather unusual distinction of being the debut album from these veterans.

‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is very much an Edinburgh album but the wonderful cover by Gerry Gapinski (which looks like Edinburgh as imagined by China Mieville) makes it clear that this is not the Edinburgh of the Festival and the Scottish Parliament.  Rather this is the Edinburgh in which one man feasts on another in a dark alley (‘Jacob’s Ladder’), of shady dealers (‘High’) and ruined septums (‘Long Time Dead’).

Correspondingly ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ is a much darker record than ‘Dark Passenger’ and is musically characterised by two key elements – Martin Metcalfe’s growled vocals and Fin Wilson’s ominous bass-lines.

In general this lends a lot of the tunes a menacing quality, particularly on the first side. The title track kicks things off in defiant fashion yet even the single ‘Long Time Dead’ is a taut, gnarled beast.

In contrast the second half of the album manages to find some hope in these dark places. So it’s here that you’ll find the only real anthem on the record in the shape of ‘Children of the Filthy’. It’s the closest in spirit to ‘New Town Killers’ but also a call to arms (“it’s time to kill the king”). Meanwhile the preceding song, ‘Violent Sorrow’ may be a lament but, led by a piano, it’s the most ornate song on the record – in spite of its title.

It’s quite an opulent sounding record in places too -the basic line-up supplemented by pianos, organs and strings at various points to great effect.

This is best illustrated by closing track ‘Kingdom of Ice’, an instant Filthy Tongues classic which brings the record to an uplifting conclusion in no small part due to its gorgeous cello coda.

After so many years playing together it’s remarkable that the Filthy Tongues continue to find new ways to reinvent themselves. Yet ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ provides vital evidence that they remain a potent force.

Essential stuff.

The Filthy Tongues have the following dates lined up to promote the new record:

Friday, March 18th – HMV, Glasgow, (Instore)
Saturday, March 19th – ABC O2, Glasgow
Thursday, April 14th – Mad Hatters/Hootennanies Inverness
Friday, April 15th – Beat Generator, Dundee
Saturday, April 16th – Love Music Glasgow – Record Store Day

Delighted that the Dundee date above is a Cool Cat Club/MPT co-presentation.

Pre-orders for the LP, including some special packages are just about still available here.