Back in June of 2017, Sheffield rock beasts Black Spiders waved goodbye to an army of loyal fans with some sonically charged shows at London’s House Of Vans and Sheffield’s Corporation before retreating into the shadows to lick their wounds and shed their skins.
And then, in November of 2020, with the world in the grips of the Coronavirus pandemic and after a long year of very little fun and even less rocking, from out of the silhouettes they returned with Fly In The Soup, the first new Black Spiders music in six years. And it felt good. Just under four-minutes of prime riff-crammed rock action, a stadium filler waiting to happen, and exactly the feel-good shot in the arm the world needed, while we await that other vaccine.
The seeds of the Black Spider return were actually planted last summer, when singer and guitarist Pete Spiby began taking to guitarist Ozzy Lister to start writing new material and before they knew it, they had amassed the best part of 40 songs in a very short period of time which they honed and whittled down to album contenders, ready to hit the studio. And then the pandemic hit.
“It’s certainly been a strange process, in unfamiliar territory,” explains Pete. “We started to look at how we could do it given the restrictions and not only that, but we had to replace our original drummer too. More obstacles throw in our way to smash through. We found a way. For us and probably most other bands, we would usually take a riff or song idea to a rehearsal and thrash it out ‘till we either had something or it ended up in the song graveyard! This time around we couldn’t do that, so myself, Ozzy and on occasion Adam Irwin (bass player) started to send ideas back and forth until we had something to work with in GarageBand. We got to a point where we had enough song ideas with basic structure to go into a studio proper, at a convenient time, to put something down. It was at this point when we had to look for a new drummer.”
With former drummer ‘Tiger’ Si Atkinson unavailable to play, with a week or two of grooming, the band took a chance on Planet Rock DJ Wyatt Wendel to occupy the drum stool. Without having played with him, and in some cases, never having met him, they demoed some of the songs through the wonders of modern technology and once they got into the studio (Axis Studios in Doncaster) with producer and engineer Matt Elliss, who had recorded both previous Black Spiders albums, the music came together thick and fast.
“I’ve never joined or worked with a band in this way EVER,” laughs Wyatt. “2020 certainly made it surreal. One minute I’m making some online drum videos for a radio station and then Pete pops up and asks if I’m busy. In the second minute I’m asked if I’d like to record some tracks. The third minute I agree. Soon after I’m in a studio recording tracks I’ve only heard demos of, having NEVER met the band or rehearsed, and it was all done on a wing and a prayer. In a weird twist of fate none of this would have happened without the pandemic of 2020! Funny how things can work out….”
“A Pete/Ozzy writing session at the beginning of the year had produced some promising results, but it felt like barriers were popping up everywhere,” explains bassist Adam Irwin. “We started talking about how we could use technology such as GarageBand to help, and slowly but surely the song writing gathered pace. We could sketch out ideas on the iPad, send them out to everyone else who could then add their own parts, suggest changes etc. Confidence grew, as did our newfound editing and recording skills. It was time to hook up with our old producer Matt Elliss and try these new songs out in the studio.”
“Heading into the studio to record songs we’d written but never played together, with a drummer that we’d never met, is one of the stranger experiences I’ve had while being in a band. Thankfully, Wyatt has turned out to be an excellent addition, who despite his faults (loud, southern) has fit right into the band dynamic. I feel like I’m already starting to get a feel for his playing style despite the fact we’ve still not actually played together, and I can’t wait until the moment when we can start playing live again. Covid has made life really tough for so many of us in our industry. And yet, this new way of song writing has been liberating, this is the most consistent and prolific we’ve ever been, and I am immensely proud of this album.”
And they have every right to be. Against all of the odds, Black Spiders have crafted an album that features thirteen tracks of high-energy, feel-good rock n’roll contrasted by demonic doom that despite the disjointed, isolated way it was recorded (even second guitarist Mark Thomas, in lockdown in Spain, recorded his parts remotely), sounds like a band, firing on all cylinders, sweating it out in a dark and dank practice space with lyrics that perfectly document these insane times we are living through.
“We had to dig down deep to pull out some gems and what would we want from Black Spiders,” questions Pete. “Probably not just your regular boys adventure stories, so I looked at themes for the songs, in the bands that I held dear and what was relevant to my and our lives, as a lot had gone on personally for us all, over the time we have been away. Sabbath had all the answers I needed…war, vengeance, mental health, death, conservation & climate change, where are we from? Relationships, friendships, our flaws. Where are we going? Alien life and Mother Earth – some of which made the record.”
Kicking off with the aforementioned Fly In The Soup single, this third self-titled long-player wastes no time in grabbing you by the scruff of the neck and dragging you through an album where good times, hooks and riffs are not in short supply, but the doom-drenched likes of Wizard Shall Not Kill Wizard and the psychedelic groove of album closer Crooked Black Wings give us an album of many moods and dynamics and a reason to be cheerful in 2021.
And why does the album have no title?
“It wasn’t hard picking a title for the album, as we decided that the focus should be on the band, not the album title, so we decided not to have one. It was the easiest thing of the whole process. Let the music do the talking….
Pre-order the album here: https://cargorecordsdirect.co.uk/products/black-spiders-black-spiders