Bottles and Skulls – Born in a Black Light

Bottles and Skulls
Born in a Black Light

If you ask the members of Bottles and Skulls what sort of music they play, they come back with “white-trash-goth-indie-rock.” Are you worried yet? Well, imagine yourself in a biker bar where everyone has had a bit too much to drink. Then these four guys with black t-shirts, sunglasses, and cock-sure attitudes swagger onto the stage. Without saying a single word of greeting, these guys pick up their instruments, set down their drinks, snub out their cigarettes, and begin ripping a sonic hole through anyone within their reach. I have never seen the band live, but that is the sort of mental image you get when listening to Born in a Black Light. And though I have not yet seen them in concert, this album makes me want to.
No single instrument stands out here, as they are all perfectly balanced in what is essentially a wall of gritty noise. The drum work is thoroughly pummeling. It is not technically complicated, but the skills are as tight as the drumheads that are being pounded. “Please, Please Me” opens with eerie cymbal rolls that accent the clashing feedback and then erupts with a rhythm that you can hardly keep from pounding out with your first the first time you hear it. The bass work is perfectly suited to play the role of the second part of this rhythm section. In similar fashion to the drum work, the basslines are not overly complicated, but they will burrow their way into your skull and make gaping space for all the other noise to crawl in and take possession of you.
Then come the guitars, and they provide a pretty hefty assault. With the attack coming from two sources, one is crunching out huge riffs while the other is…well…it’s pretty much doing the same thing. Or maybe one guy decides to crank out a smoking solo, or slam his guitar on the ground and see what strange noises it can make. The vocals make you wonder if this guy is swallowing razor blades and chasing them with Jack Daniels in preparation for every time he takes the stage. He doesn’t sing so much as he snarls, and if the lyrics were filled with any more venom, someone would certainly be poisoned. “We don’t give a flying fuck what you say! You stupid fucking losers! We don’t care about you!” is just one example.
Even the occasional mid-tempo efforts, such as “Black Wedding” and “Kill the Music,” are filled with the same sense of spiteful aggression as the others, and there really seems to be no slowing these guys down. It is scrappy rock and roll with a huge gritty punk influence, but it is also tight as hell and equally well produced. Even if you don’t normally like this sort of thing, you just might change your mind for this one.