The Black Angels Record Review

Death Song (Partisan)

The Black Angels Record Review

From the minute needle hit groove on the Black Angels' eponymous 2005 EP, singer Alex Maas and crew laid the template for a then-nonexistent modern psych scene, their menacing drone perched 'twixt the 13th Floor Elevators' garage-punk and Spiritualized's lysergic gospel music. Once freshman and sophomore full-lengths Passover and Directions to See a Ghost were issued in 2006 and 2008, respectively, the band hardly strayed from its template, although 2013's Indigo Meadow found the Austinites leavening hallucinogenic danger with whimsical, childlike strains, as if initial Pink Floyd outburst "See Emily Play" had gone into repeat in their household. All of which makes Death Song's return to droning menace so potent. Opening earworm "Currency" shrieks atop bludgeoning tom-toms, the screech and chime of dual guitars, and a jaundiced lyrical metaphor for toxic love. From there, all else unfolds righteously familiar: reverb-drenched production, throbbing tremolo guitars punctuated with bursts of fuzz, Maas' high, keening quaver. "I'd Kill for Her" rides a crashing crescendo, opposite of most musical theory, that indicates the Black Angels are about to echo the Stooges, except it's a pulsing ode to ethereal love gone savage. "Half Believing" drones on what sounds like a queasy organ, steadily building a tension that never resolves. Dance floor raver "I Dreamt" suggests the Jesus & Mary Chain. Death Song's strength lies in the Black Angels sticking to theirs.


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