Mutation - III: Dark Black album review
Wildhearts frontman returns to his wilder side
Ginger has surely earned the status of bona fide British institution by now. For a lot of music fans, his band The Wildhearts symbolise a heyday of the 90s rock scene – but for far too many that’s all they know of his extensive and eclectic back catalogue. He returns with Dark Black, the third part of his Mutation trilogy, a fucked-up assault of lo-fi fuzz and extreme catharsis. As with the previous two instalments, he’s brought his mates along for the ride. Scott Lee Andrews of Welsh punkers Exit International is his main co-writer, along with a rogues gallery of legends including Devin Townsend in operatic form on Devolution, and Motörhead’s Phil Campbell, on their most intense offering yet, the title referencing their struggles with mental health. There’s a nostalgic air, an industrial vibe that brings to mind Ministry and early Strapping Young Lad. The pummelling mania is interspersed with wicked humour, movie samples and elevating melodies, such as the gleefully sweary anthem Irritant, that make the lurch between the blasting clatter of Victim or the outright exhilaration of Hate engagingly accessible. It’s not a record likely to earn Ginger the wider acclaim he deserves, but it’s yet another reason to appreciate how lucky we are to have him.