Six is an album possessed. It is haunted by heartache, by loss, by demons and, often, by the devil himself. There are songs here called “Wasteland,” “Rats,” “Drugs,” and “Suicide.” So, yeah, this is some pretty stark stuff.
But, through all this desolation, members Pall Jenkins and Tobais Nathaniel put up quite a fight. Opener “When You Finish Me,” which sounds like a broken anti-lullaby, is merely a soft invocation for an album of scraped-out, bracing rock songs. The dusty guitars and cool synths charge through “Witching Stone.” Meanwhile, humming vocals fill the space in the hollowed out chug of “Wasteland” as Jenkins declares he’s not leaving “until the Devil’s dead.”
And it is that backbone in the face of darkness that propels the whole album. Even the heaviest dirge on the album, “Drugs,” which might be the emotional low point to the record, is offset by the energetic jangle of “Rats” or “Forget My Heart.” “Iri Sulu” may end the record on a downbeat, but the terse, echoing vocals call to mind the deathly jester grin of Tom Waits. They may sound exhausted there, but they’re not defeated. By record’s end, the Black Heart Procession have weathered all the swirling dust and darkness around them, indulging in loss and heartache without being dragged down by it.
In the hands of a lesser band, Six could be depressive and trudging. But Jenkins and Nathaniel build this hellish world only to fill it with sweat-soaked fight songs against all those demons and devils. And in the end, they sound like they just might have survived.