Moriaty – The Die Is Cast 

Release Date: Out Now

You know that moment when your one of your best mates turns up at the pub with their new girlfriend and not only are they stunning but they’re also a really good laugh and they can hold their ale? And as soon as that girlfriend goes to the bogs, you all crowd around your mate like the proudest bunch of brothers there ever was with pats on the back and hearty pinches of the cheek. Well, that’s the emotional response I’m having with the new album from Devon duo Moriaty and, judging from the social media response in the week since it’s release, I am not the only one. This album is a beaut and I want you to know that up front.

‘The Die is Cast’ is Moriaty’s second album and opens with ‘LOL’, a track that bursts through the saloon doors with both barrels still smoking in their holsters and orders a bottle of whiskey just by looking at the barmaid. The guitars swagger, the drums are ground shaking and that’s just the opening bars which get torn a new one by Jordan’s searing rock’n’roll vocal. We are, considerably, up and running. Recent single ‘Shake’ is up next and it makes even more sense in the context of the album with those Matt Bellamy guitars slicing through your mind while Jordan sings about Kennedy and Khrushchev and their superior shaking skills. In the early part of 2020, Moriaty dropped ’24-7’ as a single and the assured and, well, loud sound knocked everyone’s socks off but that guitar solo has lost none of it’s impact during the intervening months which is really saying something in this year of years.

Track 4 is the six-and-a-half-minute opus that is ‘Balls Out of the Bath (An Ode to Mary)’ which finds the guitars in more brooding form and the drums snapping at our heels. I’ve been trying to avoid the obvious comparisons to Royal Blood and the Black Keys but on this track it’s hard to resist the rhythmic combination of those low guitar notes and that punchy snare. Then again, the pair regain their unique space with the piano and drums breakdown so maybe I should have resisted such laziness a little longer.  ‘OH!’ explores the band’s darker side with flavours of Nick Cave, Nirvana and Johnny Cash seeping in while ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ creates an uncertain Muse meets Incubus landscape with tribal percussion underpinning an impassioned speech by Stephen Fry.

‘Keep On Keeping On’ finds the band returning to the riff format but this one is more Americana tinged with an incredible guitar sound ringing out like a klaxon call to Trump supporters (the kicker, of course, is that the klaxon is on a boat in the middle of a lake of acid) – Moriaty ain’t no rednecks. The drive and power of ‘Sonny’ puts me in mind of Crazy Arm (it’s perfect for a getaway in a fast car) before ‘Bills’ comes in like a snarling, slobbering beast with one of the dirtiest riffs I’ve heard this side of Queens of the Stone Age. “The rich get rich and the poor just keep getting the bills, bills, bills” sings Jordan with a punk snarl which somehow manages to sound like Hip-Hop. Weird.

An ominously spooky piano melody opens ‘John Wayne’ before a funky beat kicks in, those low guitar notes grumble back in to view and some spoken word from an unidentified American. It’s the soundtrack to the collapse of the Western world and it, strangely, sounds delicious. ‘The Die Is Cast’ is an outro of sorts, bringing to a close an album that is so rich, ambitious and textured that you immediately want to return the needle to the start of the record. But wait, what’s this? An extra treat. Matthew and Jordan have bunged ‘Netflix’ on the end for one last rattle of the piano with a beautifully raw sound and mournful notes creating that Wednesday afternoon in an abandoned pub vibe but with dappled sunshine streaming in and giving you a sense of hope.

I’m not sure I can overstate just how wonderful this album is but just in case you are undecided then I would ask you to trust me and just go buy the album on vinyl now. As well as sounding amazing, it is a thing of absolute beauty so even if you decide you don’t like the sound you will have something nice to look at whilst also helping out a couple of hard working musicians. Merry Fucking Christmas.

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