The Filthy Tongues – Holy Brothers

• “Holy Brothers” original music video. Thanks to Filthy Tongues.

9.7 “All-time classic Indie from Scotland”

From their album “Jacob’s Ladder” released in March, 2016.

The Filthy Tongues are: Martin Metcalfe (guitar, piano, organ, vocals), Fin Wilson (bass) and Derek Kelly (drums, guitar, piano, vocals). Susannah Clark helps out with viola & violin.

I picked up their latest two albums recently (2016’s “Jacob’s Ladder” and 2018’s “Back To Hell” – the first two parts of a planned trilogy) and it got me to thinking – why did these guys never break massively on a worldwide scale? Why Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and not them? I was counting it up, and these three amigos have been at the heart of some nine albums since the late 80s, intensely consistent all the way as Goodbye Mr McKenzie, Angelfish, Isa & The Filthy Tongues and now just The Filthy Tongues. One thing’s for sure – they’ve never got rich from their cult following in Scotland, as Martin Metcalfe discussed in the Edinburgh Evening News a few years back:

“I just keep doing it, and try not to worry too much about the electric bill. What we didn’t realise when we came out of the major record labels was that bands have to cut things down if there’s less money around. We kept paying for roadies when we couldn’t afford it. There’s no shame in being your own roadie. We were a bit spoiled in the 80s and 90s, but we’ve learned the lesson of those excesses. The music business is very hard, especially now, with file sharing and no big label funding. You just have to want to do it, and it just so happens, that we do.”

Like so many in the “business” today, they wouldn’t be producing and creating if they weren’t in it first and foremost for the love of the music. Respect is due in so many ways; to survive and maintain such high standards in their songwriting, their production, their artwork, their visuals, it’s exceptional really.

Speaking of their “Jacob’s Ladder” album the group had this to say:

“Pleasingly grotty and more than a bit gothic. All based around a dark neo-feudal Edinburgh. It’s all about Auld Reekie, the Athens of the North, call it what you will, Edinburgh even; the ancient, the gothic, the stuck up and the down right dirty, all the denizens of this fine city’s past and present are to be found here in one guise or another.”

My track pick “Holy Brothers” is a stunner, musically referencing the anthemic glory of Bowie’s “Heroes” or the Bunnymen’s “Killing Moon”. Lyrically, it seems a bit closer to recent times, and it may just be that they’re digging into their own dark past here. Midnight prowlers out to see what they can find? I wouldn’t put it past them – there’s certainly no reference to the church unless you include Jezebel (an old McKenzies reference I seem to recall), although I’m not convinced this particular Jezebel is a holy one! As always, our man fails to waste a single word, his suggestive and poetic storytelling never overly romantic nor too crude, befitting the classy arrangement. Gorgeous!

Metcalfe, Wilson and Kelly are my kinda holy brothers; they’ve long since been at heart of the most under-rated groups from Scotland.


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