Devon-born rock duo Moriaty release their new album The Die Is Cast on 23 October. Hailed as a “two-headed riff monster” and known for harbouring a unique set of influential bedfellows ranging from rock legends like Rage Against The Machine, Muse and The White Stripes to hip-hop heroes such as Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and The Pharcyde, this is the duo’s second album, aiming for a heightened sense of creativity compared to their debut, 2017’s The Devil’s Child, drawing from a more colourful spectrum of sound influenced by the likes of Radiohead, Blind Willie McTell and Vulfpeck.
Proudly showcasing the fact that this “softer” edge can still pack a punch, however, the duo of Jordan West (Vocals, Guitar, Baritone, Keys) and Matthew Partridge (Vocals, Drums) were keen to highlight how the album looks at a number of themes, not least the current situation in America, and more domestic issues of births, deaths, obsession, redemption and of course Covid-19. Many of these personal experiences have been poured into the making of The Die Is Cast, sitting side-by-side with more encompassing observations on the modern social, political and technological state.
Historically, the duo have enjoyed some true hallmark moments. Having supported Muse support muse in Exeter’s Great Hall on the 2015 ‘Psycho’ tour and performed with Seasick Steve at Perranoorth Watering Hole in 2018 – both by personal request – a performance at Leopallooza Festival in 2019 brought Thom Yorke into their keen fanbase. Members of Bristolian rock outfit IDLES have also starred in previous Moriaty videos – and I have to say their videos are certainly entertaining and different!
The album kicks off with LOL, featuring a really tasty riff, and a pretty heavy, full, sound. It’s characteristic of the album in that it sounds like a four or five piece band getting stuck in! Shake is then foot-tapping and infectious, whilst taking a look at the current US president, and a notion heard on the radio that he is, for better or worse, “in charge of the nuclear ‘button’”. Third up, 24-7 is a nicely modern version of relationship problems, we’re in RATM / White Stripes arrangement territory here.
Balls Out Of The Bath proves to be a powerful and emotional elegy, it’s an ode to Jordan’s mother Mary, who recently died after long period of fighting diabetes and high blood pressure. The song is about Jordan finding her dead on the floor in the toilet, so it’s a really heartfelt lament for her. The track captures a mix of grieving, reflection and healing, balanced with some right meaty riffs! Mary would be proud. And in a way the next track, OH, feels like it’s continuing that reminiscing, regret for things gone by – with a lovely brass-led middle section.
Cognitive Dissonance is a piano-led plea for sanity in this mad, mad, world, there’s almost a hint of Pink Floyd in their gentler moments? Keep On Keeping On is then Moriaty doing their Kings Of Leon impression – and doing it remarkably well! A staccato riff and solid percussion underpin hoarsely wailed vocals straight from the KOL manual, topped with some juicy slide guitar. And the lyrics – “1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, All bad boys still come from Devon” is one of the best couplets I’ve heard this year!
Sonny is a straight forward rock song, it somehow reminds me of White Denim, and is I think a tale of reassurance to a child? Bills follows, it sounds like a heavyweight rant about materialism but I could be wrong. This is one track that could be White Stripes, with fuzzy riffs, really beefy drumming, and a good full-on thrash at the end! Good stuff!
John Wayne features a series of samples, all US-based, so I guess it’s an indictment of American global domination, all set against another nicely fuzzy chord progression. The Die is Cast reveals a nice line in floaty melodic guitar lead, quite a dreamy track, again with voiceover, ths time a kind of quiet monologue. It left me wondering if this represents Jordan’s mum commenting on the way of the world? (or is it me thinking it sounds like my mum?) And then the album concludes with the distinctly odd Netflix, which is a simple track containing solo piano and vocals. It’s not exactly an upbeat closer, but perhaps more like that sense of regret when you finish a good book?
Jordan reveals the overall message of the album. “The Die is Cast is about change. Change in both our personal and professional lives. Deaths, births, the ending and beginning of relationships, the dramatic changes in technology, and the political landscape of the entire world over just a few years.”
So, to sum up, this is powerful stuff, they really don’t sound like a twosome, the overall mix and production gives a great “full band” feeling. The comments below from 247 Magazine absolutely nail it, these two are having great fun whilst delivering their message. There’s a lot of variety of arrangements throughout the album, this is a very creative twosome! You can see the influences of Muse and Radiohead on them, particularly that soulful, soft, poignant, wistful vibe that you can get from Thom Yorke. But it’s massively tuneful, carries a meaty punch both riff-wise and lyrically, and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it.
WHAT THE MEDIA SAYS ABOUT MORIATY
“If I was in a band, I’d want to be in Moriaty”
James Santer, BBC Introducing
“A handful of default bands always spring to mind when a drum ‘n’ guitar duo looms into view, but Moriaty aren’t here to pander to such stereotypes… the sharp suited twosome are clearly having fun, devoid of agenda and pure of purpose… Bravo!”
“Playing live they have such an impressive wall of sound that hits you like a rampaging herd of wildebeest. Its dirty, fuzzed to the eyeballs with romping ball-breakingly handsome blues riffs a-plenty, tied down with genius percussion, slick vocals and snazzy suits”