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With its combined title paying tribute to two well-loved rock albums of the early seventies, Starless and Bible Black Sabbath has thus far been the most prominent and (relatively speaking) high-profile release from Japanese experimental/psychedelic rock band The Acid Mothers Temple & the Cosmic Inferno, the most recent off-shoot of guitarist Kawabata Makotos prolific Acid Mothers Temple collective. The album consists of a mere two songs but lasts for forty minutes; in the spirit of classic progressive rock, the title track is a mammoth recording lasting nearly thirty-five minutes, supplemented by a vastly different and much shorter companion piece. Its also not the kind of album that could be easily approached by casual listeners, requiring, like much avant-garde music, a comprehensive knowledge of how music is supposed to sound in order to appreciate this for sounding so wildly different. In truth, theres nothing phenomenal or ground-breaking about this album, or the premise of releasing a part noise-rock, largely psychedelic record over thirty years since it all began, but its an enjoyable enough oddity even if, by its very nature, its not going to get played very often. The first song is partly a re-working of Black Sabbaths classic self-titled song from their classic self-titled album, featuring a rainy intro, slow main section and spring into something slightly faster and more upbeat later on, but its by no means a simple cover song, an it does more than simply stretch the original to an unreasonable five or so times its acceptable length (though it does that as well). This music is loud and busy, as opposed to Sabbaths loud and stoned approach, and even though the first eight minutes consist essentially of repeating the same dark and simple guitar riff, the band creates a great spacey atmosphere through the odd dual drums of Okana Futoshi and Shimura Koji, the bleeping and booping keyboards of Higashi Hiroshi and Tabata Mitsurus distant, echoed vocals. The main instrument of note that clearly dominates and controls all the proceedings is Kawabatas skilled guitar, which slips into solo often without the listener even realising it. His proficiency is deliberately toned down a little here to keep the song a little hypnotic and to avoid unnecessary distraction, and even though he replicates Tony Iommis original riff precisely, when the song hits its stride for seven or so minutes in the middle, the whole thing very soon becomes drowned in his solos to the extent that it doesnt even matter. And its not like they were trying to hide their influence in any case, with a song title, album title and album cover all paying respect to those whacked-out Brummies. The songs major drawback is simply that its far too long to maintain the listeners interest, making it suitable only as background music or for the other purposes used by veteran fans of psychedelia, as the song only really changes with a pleasant bit of acoustic strumming in the last couple of minutes. Woman from a Hell kicks up the speed by several thousand notches and shifts from psychedelic metal tribute to psychedelic punk tribute, but otherwise the ingredients and focus are all the same: Kawabata shows off with his guitar for a while, and everyone else bulks out the sound with zaps, crashes and wails. Its a successfully energetic song, even if it does descend into outright obnoxious masturbation at the end, and I enjoy listening to absurdly talented guitarists showing off about once or twice a year, so it satisfies that part of me, as well as the part that enjoys hearing men make their guitars sound distinctly like 1980s video game music. The song crackles to death at the end, presumably to tie in with the beginning of the album in case anyone was mad or trippy enough to stick the thing on repeat, but listened to in isolation this is a very enjoyable song, even if it is once again rooted firmly in the past. The Acid Mothers Temple & the Cosmic Inferno is an interesting musical project, but largely derivative of and less spectacular than many of the other, more prominent experimental groups working out of Japan and elsewhere, but as a sort of modern-day, drugged-up revamping of seventies staples, this album does its job satisfactorily. The oddest thing comes in the alleged King Crimson tribute which isnt really noticeable, apart from some guitar tendencies that you could suggest were inspired by Robert Fripp if you were desperate to find a match. Whats more, that bands Starless and Bible Black was never even much of a classic anyway, being a hastily and quite shoddily produced bit of discography filler between classics of a similarly unreliable but interesting musical outfit. I can only surmise that Acid Mothers Temple members whiled away those lonely nights on tour by playing an album titles game, in which the last word of the first players title had to be the first word of the seconds. I guess this would have been the first move, after which only Sabbath Bloody Sabbath could be played, after which youre screwed. Lets face it, if any bands going to spend their time playing pointlessly erudite games like that, its these guys.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Lady From Hell
2 Woman From A Hell