Black Country New Road – Album Review


Zach Malone’s personal record collection features Ants From Up There

Zach Malone, Staff Writer

Black Country, New Road’s sophomore album “Ants From Up There” was dropped on February 4th, 2022 and has been met with praise from fans and critics alike.


Black Country, New Road is a British rock band formed in Cambridgeshire in 2018 consisting of Tyler Hyde on bass, Lewis Evans on saxophone, Georgia Ellery on strings, May Kershaw on keys, Charlie Wayne on drums, and Luke Mark on guitar. Isaac Wood was the lead guitarist and vocalist for the band, but released a statement on the band’s social media on January 31st 2022 that he would be leaving the band to take better care of his mental health. Since their earliest releases they have become one of the most talked about bands online.


Their debut album “For The First Time was released on February 5th, 2021, and was praised for pushing new grounds by creating a claustrophobic, anxiety-inducing atmosphere, showing that the group has a masterful way of building tension in a song by bringing together excellent performances on all ends. Each track has a unique sound that builds to a truly epic climax unlike songs that you’d hear on the radio.


The group first teased their sophomore album on October 11th 2021 on their Instagram account. The very next day the band announced the album’s name, “Ants From Up There, and that it was scheduled to be released by February 4th, 2022. Throughout the following months the group would release the singles “Chaos Space Marine,” “Bread Song,” “Concorde,” and “Snow Globes”, all of which were praised for the group’s masterful use of their instruments and poetic lyrics from Isaac Wood.


The album begins with “Intro,” a fifty-five second instrumental track where the saxophone and strings take center stage along with the bass and drums. It’s a great example of what you’re getting into if you’ve never heard the group’s music before.


The second track “Chaos Space Marine” is the first of many great tracks on this album, starting off with very upbeat and energetic instrumentation. This more “fun” feeling stays throughout the track’s three and a half minute runtime until around two thirds of the way through the track when it slows down. Along with great instrumentation, this track is a fantastic example of Wood’s clever lyricism as he sings about escaping a failing relationship through the “Warhammer” games. One great line in particular can be found in the chorus of the song: “So I’m leaving my body / and I’m never coming home again, yea / I’ll bury the axe here / between the window and the kingdom of men”.


On the next track, “Concorde,” Wood uses fantastic lyrics to compare his unwillingness to give up on a failing relationship due to his emotional investment to the UK and French governments unwillingness to abandon the Concorde project after significant financial losses. Possibly the most beautiful picture that Wood paints on this album is found in this track’s chorus, the idea of being so enamored with someone that you would sprint up a mountain just to get a glimpse of them, like a Concorde flying at twelve-hundred miles per hour glinting in the sun for just a brief moment: “And you, like Concorde / I came, a gentle hill racer / I was breathless upon every mountain / just to look at your light”.


“The Place Where He Inserted the Blade” is another standout track on this album, clocking in at seven minutes and twelve seconds. It begins with a devastating sounding piano and carries that feeling throughout. The lyrics go through feelings of regret over a failed relationship.


Closing track “Basketball Shoes” starts off slow and eerie, then builds as more and more instruments get added seamlessly at what feels like the perfect moment for each respective instrument to join in. After around three and a half minutes of build up the instruments abruptly stop playing except for very subtle cymbals which allow the vocals to shine as Wood sings of feelings of heartbreak and dread. The music then suddenly gets quieter as the saxophone takes center stage for a dreary and sad, melodic pattern that sends a feeling of dread down your spine. That feeling comes to a sudden halt as the music smoothly transitions into a rapidly accelerating pattern that feels like a speeding train as the violin imitates a panic attack until an abrupt stop. This is followed by a brief yet relaxing moment of silence, until you begin to hear very faintly the strings playing that dreary pattern from earlier, slowly repeating until it explodes as suddenly the guitar, drums, bass, saxophone, and vocals roar into a menacing wall of sound. It’s triumphant, like music that would play as people reminisce over their lives as an atom bomb inches closer to the ground, obliteration imminent yet beautiful. 


Overall, this album is nearly perfect with only a few very minor issues, and is certain to go down as a classic within the coming years. 10/10