Less than six months after the sprawling IAO Chant From the Cosmic Inferno, Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno came back with another play on a classic song, this time one *slightly* more well known. Starless and Bible Black Sabbath play on both King Crimson and the Birmingham blokes responsible for some of the greatest riffs known to mankind. But if there was any doubt as to which direction this album was leaning, one look at the cover should tell you all you need to know, with main man Kawabata Makoto creating his own twisted version of the eponymous debut album.
Wikipedia classifies this as “an album and song” which I find no end of amusement from, but listening back to it now I can understand. The “album” portion is comprised of the 34-minute track “Starless and Bible Black” and like IAO Chant it’s an extended interpretation of another song, this time Sabbath’s mammoth opening track. The vibe is suitably murky and dense, opening with ambient noises and feedback before swirling into a crushing doom riff, reverb drenched vocals hovering in the air while assorted effects permeate the soundstage. It’s not a note-for-note recall of the famous tritone, but it evokes the same sense of scale. Mikoto’s guitar is a banshee, moving between bursts of feedback and gliding runs up and down the neck. The song parallels the original further in structure: at about the nine minute mark it suddenly shifts into a higher gear, moving into a grooving rock riff reminiscent of the rapid fire bridge of “Black Sabbath.” Except here it’s once again an opportunity to veer off into uncharted sonic territory before coming back in the second half of the song to the original doom riff, providing Mikoto the opportunity to endlessly wail on his guitar.
The second track, “Woman From a Hell” is some straight up 70s Hawkwind boogie worship, with stellar bass courtesy of Tabata Mitsuro, who also provides the vocals for the album. At just over six minutes it’s much easier to take in and digest, especially when what it’s basically doing is burning the ground and ripping the sky with screeching rock. Listening to it now I’m really drawn in by how agile the bass playing is, and how the band’s use of effects really broaden the stereo effect of the song. I’ve read a lot of comparisons to early krautrock as well, but sadly that’s a genre I’m not as well versed in (something I’ll rectify at some point)
The real surprise for me listening back now is how much more in tune I am with this style of music that I was when I initially bought it. Sabbath has always been a touchstone for me, so I suspect when I picked this up it was thinking that, after the swing and miss of IAO Chant From the Cosmic Inferno (something I have now turned a corner on) that this would be more “metal” – something I was looking for as 2005-2006 was the period that I came back to explore what was happening in metal. But for whatever reason the “click” didn’t happen so these have largely been relegated to the shelf for over a decade. Coming back to Acid Mothers Temple now I’m eager to jump deeper into their discography and see how it sits with me now, particularly as I continue to explore other more modern psychedelic rock acts. For now I’m really content to spend late evenings with this music sifting through my headphones and into my consciousness.