This is dark. Dark slabs of rumbling noise, rent with sharper, louse, more abrasive blasts of discordant noise make for a bold opening to the album, as ‘May 3rd 1979 (When Evil Took Hold)’ scratches its indelible, blood-spattered mark on the listener’s psyche. This was the date on which the Conservative party, led by Margaret Thatcher, was elected into government – in which context, the parenthetical subtitle makes sense. It may be instrumental and essentially ambient – the usual Rothko instrumentation, defined by Mark Beazley’s bass, submerged by dark, abstract tides of noise, but this is a politically-charged work.
‘May 2nd 1997 (The End of Truth)’ stands as a counterpart to the album’s opener, while titles like ‘There is no End to War’ and ‘The Peace Process’ also provide abundant indication of the artistic intent to the swelling, swirling billows of amorphous sound. There are moments of delicate melody, with latticeworks of synth trailing across soft piano on ‘For the Disappeared’.
The cover art places images of champagne-quaffing suits side by side with military helicopters and soldiers in the field and police tape, highlighting the polarities of power. It’s the suits who wield it, who issue the orders, who capitalise on the bloodshed inflicted by those under their command.
My fingers momentarily hovered over the keyboard like a Chinook preparing to drop aid packages, poised to deliver some words about the album’s relevance in the week the west unleashed its weapons on Syria, before the realisation dawned: ‘Blood Demands More Blood’ is perpetually timely, and this is its fundamental point. There is not only no end to war, but there is no rest from war. There is always war being fought somewhere.
It’s perhaps not as challenging or harrowing as Pharoah Chromium’s ‘Gaza’ album, but nevertheless, ‘Blood Demands More Blood’ is a heavy, intense, and quite uncomfortable album – and so it should be. There is no levity in war and bloodshed and destruction.
With ‘Blood Demands More Blood’, Rothko have delivered something dark and uncompromising, but above all, ‘Blood Demands More Blood’ is both timely and timeless.