It’s been four years since The Black Angels released their last full length, 2013’s Indigo Meadow. Paying further homage to their namesake, the band’s latest album Death Song is a solid reminder of the influence of the Velvet Underground (the Velvets debut album features the song “The Black Angel’s Death Song”). Remaining faithful to their trademark sound, The Black Angels waste no time in establishing the dark, yet alluring tone of the album.
An enchanting 11-song journey, Death Song is truly an enjoyable aural experience. The opening track “Currency” fades in with a single drone track which slowly builds with layers of bass and guitar, culminating in a full band assault leading into the first verse. Lead singer Alex Maas’ vocals are unmistakenly unique and instantly provide a level of comfort set against the grain of frenetic music. An infectious song to kick off the album, “Currency” moves swiftly into a no-holds barred rocker entitled “I’d Kill For Her.” Catchy guitar hooks and melody cement the song as a candidate for fan favorite. Undoubtedly, “I’d Kill For Her” will find its way into the band’s setlist in regular rotation.
The album’s third song stands out as a sort of calm within the storm. A ballad, at least for The Black Angels, “Half Believing” is a departure from the band’s sound and a beautiful interpretation of love and trust. Another strong contender for the stage, this song has the room to grow and develop wings in live performance. These first three songs pack quite a delicious punch, and if listening on vinyl, encapsulate a satisfying side one.
Death Song moves forward in familar territory with expected textures and tones, rhythms and drones. If psych rock is in your wheelhouse, The Black Angels create a soundscape worthy of an all-immersive trip. Other highlights of the album include “Grab As Much (as you can)”, with its infectious bass line, and the Pink Floyd-influenced freakout “I Dreamt.” The album closes with “Life Song”, a somber tune with traces of early Bowie that lays the listener gently to rest. An appropriate choice to complete the sonic journey, “Life Song” is a sprawling six-minute ride through dreamweaver terrain.
All in all, Death Song is a solid output from a band that has come of age and matured in their songwriting capability. The album gains momentum with each song and gets better with each subsequent listen. It’ll be interesting to see which songs pop up in the band’s setlists and how they translate in real time on the concert stage. Tha Black Angels begin their tour in support of Death Song on April 26 in Nashville, TN.