Blind Mouths Eat is the second album washed ashore, stained and rotting, from the cracked hands of The Doomed Bird of Providence, a band making some gripping and astonishingly grim music.
The listener can sense what is in store from the sawing rise and fall of short intro ‘Hidden Within the Day’; something wicked this way comes and from here onwards all is violence and death. The pace of the album is plodding and funereal, its lyrical subject matter as nightmarish and dark as any Cormac McCarthy tale. The music is like a droning folkish waltzing Godspeed You! Black Emperor, without the cathartic crescendos; it provides no bursts of light, merely deeper darkness. The vocals recount stories of blood, broken bones, storms, blistered corpses, disease, maggots and magpies, all delivered in a gruff and tiredly despairing croak. The repeated line “coughing and spitting up blood” taken from the diary of a 19th century woman dying from the effects of tuberculosis is particularly memorable. The dirge-like pace acts as an unflinching stare at the grimness displayed in the lyrics, a long slow zoom onto horror; it offers no respite from the unremitting bleakness.
The band plays brilliantly: wilting guitars, ukulele, and a booming rhythm section. The violins circle like birds, ready to peck the flesh from the near-bare bones of the song structures. There is a short departure in ‘Diabolically Decorated’, a troubling noise instrumental, full of creaks, groans and sudden cracks, like stones dropped into a plague-ruined well.
A tremendous final instrumental, ‘Machina’, full of fire and thunder, closes ‘Blind Mouths Eat’, gathering its oppressive atmosphere for one last night-time attack before morning. It begins and proceeds violently before a mid-point segue into a thin wire of whistling violin scrape, singing sharply like a humming wire fence, vibrating in the wind. Its final moments evoke a hopeless grey dawn vista of waste and ruin.