THE BLACK ANGELS
Death Song – Vinyl // CD // DD
Partisan Records – Released: April 21, 2017
Reviewed by Ric “Suisyko” Dorr
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Sttephanie Bailey – drums & percussion
Christian Bland – vocals, guitar, drone machine/organ
Kyle Hunt – keyboards, percussion, bass, guitar
Alex Maas – vocals, bass, drone machine/organ
Jake Garcia – guitar
“Clear Lake Forest” EP / “Indigo Meadow” / “Directions To See A Ghost” / “Phosphene Dream” / “Passover” / “The Black Angels & Roky Erikson” 7″ vinyl
THE BLACK ANGELS – “Death Song” / 11 items, 48 minutes… this is what I knew of this ‘gathering of 5 individuals’ as I pushed play for the first time. Had not heard anything previously. Wide open with a clean palette. No expectations, nothing preconceived.
For the next 48 minutes, I sat, transfixed on every note, every beat, each word that was delivered in the purest expressions of control, dissonance, commitment, greed, desperation and the ultimate loss. I had no urge to rise, no need to leave, and dropped below the surface in the echoing timbre of Christian’s vocals, Stephanie’s perfect mix of body and fill as Kyle, Jake and Alex flex their individual AND collective muscle to offer one of the most original releases I have heard yet this year. Showing their influences and sounding like no one else in particular, this collection of compositions is nothing short of stellar.
From the lumbering, quick fade in droning and then power punch pace of ‘Currency’ through the almost surf-punk guitar tone of ‘I’d Kill For Her’, to ‘Half Believing’ with the soft-touch intro as Christian tells of ‘half believing, half suspicious’ show that this disc is full of the things we have come to expect and so much MORE than imagined. ‘Comanche Moon’ opens with a ferocity not implied by the name of the song while ‘Grab As Much (As You Can)’ has this ‘happy’ bouncing bass line that belies the real feel of, just as ‘Estimate’ could be a dirge by the beginning measures and ‘I Dreamt’, ‘Hunt Me Down’ and ‘Medicine’ are even more expressions of the multiple directions that THE BLACK ANGELS show they are more than capable of and are happy to lead us to.
The last two tracks on this opus, ‘Death March’ and ‘Life Song’ fit the flow of this track order and help define the title of this record and, in MY opinion, should be played one after the other in a live format as they compliment each other and again seem to offer the defining moments of this album serving as the bookend. If you are familiar with this band, you will be thrilled beyond what you may have been thinking you could expect. If you have never heard of them, this is a great place to start and then the previous releases will serve as the ultimate “pre-quels” for you. Grab the record IMMEDIATELY and support them by going to see them if they come to your area, tell everybody you know about them and turn it UP!!