Review Summary: All encompassing trip...
The Black Angels are the perfect example of a really consistent band that always knows what is capable of and which sonic direction they should head into. Since their excellent debut, Passover
, the guys have been concentrating on ‘60s-rooted psychedelia, albeit more intense and dirty. On top of these acid rock leanings, dark elements such as somber lyrics or paranoid keyboards thrive, driving the grooves, all the while maintaining an overall mysterious imagery. The group broke the pattern through Indigo Meadow
, a meandering LP, full of substantially friendlier material. Gone were the washes of heavy distortion, giving way to twangy melodies and more prominent vocals from Alex Maas. The less whiny, more powerful and sarcastic tone used was actually a big plus there, I wish he kept it on a constant basis. Unfortunately, the album split the fan base, as some weren’t ready for their favorite act to go light on them. I found it really suitable, because once some layers were removed, you could find really cool tunes that were seen in a new light there.
So now, keeping in mind what purists want and dosing the penchant for poppier cuts, The Black Angels offer us Death Song
, their most socially aware record yet. Whether they address political issues, genocides (both historic and contemporary) or anxieties caused by alienation or inability to cope with the overwhelming pace of the 21st century, the band smoothly blends the beautiful with the ugly. In between the loud, razor wired guitar attack you also get lovely picked chords or bouncy bass lines. ‘I’d Kill for Her’ & ‘Medicine’ meld best these intertwining styles, whereas the barn burning groove of ‘Comanche Moon’ is probably the strongest moment here. Jumping from swaying to pounding beats, we’re kept in a tensed state (something they worked on since day one), until they kick the door down with the main hook. These mood shifts occur throughout the entire album, each song delivering at a different tempo and sharing its own diversity. ‘Estimate’ brings to mind the dreamy side of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, only to be followed by ‘Death March’, resembling Interpol, but with a heavy dose of psychedelic drugs on board. As ‘Life Song’ closes this affair, leaving us to forever float in space (much like Major Tom, may him rest in peace), there’s a bittersweet feeling that even though the music is great, it tells us things aren’t right around us and seem to continue going downhill.