Album: The Black Angels – ‘Death Song’

Some records act as time-signifiers, articulating the socio-politico-emoticomplex so deftly that they will be seen as para-psychic texts for millennia to come. The Black Angels‘ Death Song is one such objet d’art.

With sonic sculpting from Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, The Shins), these eleven songs observe, absorb, feel the pulse and take the temperature of the dis-ease and unease prevalent in today’s cosmos, then promptly prescribe a protective remedy racket of fuzz and buzz. Opener ‘Currency’ is a head against the Wall Street crash-bang-a-thon articulating the everyday demands and losses wrought on the working drone, the fealty ‘you pay with all of your life, a slave from 9 -5’; its mantra that money’s omnipotence is the root of all malevolence and worry not ‘one day it’ll all be over’. No ambiguity in that threat.

‘I’d Kill For Her’ is a wailing and flailing murder anti-ballad worthy of Black Francis. The self-doubt and mistrust intrinsic to fractured relationships embodies ‘Half Believing’, where the person once (en)tranced is now awake, as ‘he’ cries in vain ‘it’s like my spell on you is useless’. The magic has gone, the spark is snuffed, the potion of devotion slaked dry.

‘Comanche Moon’ is lunatic asylum rock, an indigenous promise to “reach into your socket, rip back your scalp as you crrry”. No half measures here, no prisoners there. ‘Hunt Me Down’ is what shuffling anachronism Noel Gallagher thinks he’s hearing when he’s spewing his sonic gut-rot up, but, where his audio chloroform sedates this is a thumping plodding masterclass that follows your every step, hears your every breath, your shadow is shadowed. No place is safe from trace.

‘Grab As Much (as you can)’ lifts the bass from Can’s ‘Mother Sky’ to maximum effect with a guitar lick nod to ‘Shakin’ All Over’, resulting in a surfin’ safari-ot to the apex of the vortex. Standout ‘I Dreamt’ is a Clinic-al hypnotic tock of the sleep clock. The time elapsed during the (a)wake-state, is it real or am I dead? The pulsating ‘Medicine’ is a spoonful of sugary melody threnody. Feed your head.

The interstellar story-telling ‘Life Song’ deploys Jeff Lynne’s appropriated Beatles drum sound to delirious space-rock effect. Aspiring, desiring with an ultimately expiring exhortation of “I’m dying to say, I love you anyway”, the end result a dramatic finale to a funereal time. This rebirth and revengeful reincarnation ultimately uttering “I am your warning from the other side”, the last cry of an album of controlled rage against the machines of control.

Kemper Boyd