100 Greatest Songs of the 90’s #47 Catherine Wheel – Black Metallic

Released : 1992

Straight outta the rock n’ roll ghettos of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, Catherine Wheel were initially bracketed in with the shoegaze movement, before singer Rob Dickinson – cousin to Iron Maiden’s Bruce – and his compatriots began suffering from an acute case of impostor syndrome. With most people at the time still baffled by his co-invention of post-rock alongside Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, hiring Tim Friese-Greene to produce their debut album Ferment was an option most bands would’ve passed on, but the cathedral like spaces and diffusion of power into mirage that resulted would set them boldly apart.

According to Dickinson the origins of Black Metallic went back to the time prior to Catherine Wheel as a band, a period in which it’s early version was “Three chords…originally just three, three and a half minutes long”, before months of live work hardened and shaped it in a process that as the song’s title suggested was like working metal over a smith’s anvil.

In it’s finished state the fragment had become seven minutes plus of quiet-loud, dream-rage, sun-storm bipolarity, a ride that felt like it could veer out of control at any moment, unspooling into blankness. After sputtering out in 2000, since groups such as Death Cab For Cutie and Interpol have revealed the debt they owe both to Catherine Wheel and songs like Black Metallic, however despite the ongoing clamour, all suggestions of a reformation have been tactfully rebuffed.


  1. Love this tune so much. Its funny you mention them not re-forming. I swore they were going to jump onboard the reunion train a few years ago because there were rumblings and, well, everyone else was doing it…


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