You might think that going from a five-piece to a four-piece and decreasing some of the reverb would make a mellower album for the Black Angels, but you’d be wrong. Dear God in heaven, you would be wrong.
Stephanie “The Secret Weapon” Bailey’s opening drums on the title track signal that this will not be a comfy ride – it will be a dark journey into creepy places and hidden recesses of the mind.
Christian Bland’s fuzzed-out guitar on “Evil Things” and Alex Maas’ spooky vocals are as seductive as the back seat of Satan’s limo. It also has some of my favorite lyrics on the whole record, like the haunting opening verse – “I once met you in a killing field, collecting dust, yeah, picking up blood. That was then, when we were both people; doing people things like collecting dreams, honey.” I’m not sure what “people things” are, but the idea that they are things undone by ancient things from the beyond comes to mind.
Just so you don’t think the Black Angels have abandoned reverb, they bring it back with force on “Don’t Play with Guns,” which may be about a man in love with a professional killer, a demon, or both. Christian Bland’s guitar is particularly smoking on this track and it’s one of the best cuts on the album (and already a crowd favorite at their live shows).
Some of their favorite song subjects – strange love, psychedelia, and war – are here. “Holland,” “Love Me Forever” (which rocks, by the way), “You’re Mine,” and “Always Maybe” are about unrequited or bitter love. “The Day” is a great, pure psychedelic freak-out (with great organ playing by Kyle Hunt), and so is “I Hear Colors.” I mean; it’s a song about hearing colors and feeling them in your bloodstream. It builds to a wild, frantic pace that might have you laughing in terror if you listen to it late at night and after drinking too much Red Bull. “Twisted Light” is perfect for playing in the background while you read Alice in Wonderland.
There’s more great organ on “War on Holiday.” In “Broken Soldier” (a song about a soldier with PTSD), Alex Maas sings, “It’s hard to kill when you don’t know what side you’re on.” It’s probably the biggest gut-punch lyric on the whole record.
The album ends with “Black Isn’t Black,” and it is perhaps the best closing track I have heard on any album in the last year. Kyle Hunt lays down a bass line that would fit in your favorite slow jam while Alex Maas sings to a girl that makes him think “the world’s okay.” Christian Bland creeps along with ethereal guitar, and, just when you think it’s is going to drift off into a trippy jam session, Stephanie Bailey unloads what feels like a twelve-gauge slug to your chest and it’s off to the races. They played this for their encore when I saw them in Indianapolis on May 7th, and it was glorious.
You need to walk through this Indigo Meadow. You won’t be the same after doing it.
~ Nik Havert
Nik Havert is a writer, DJ at WSND 88.9FM University of Notre Dame, harmonica player, martial arts instructor, comic book publisher, crime fighter,music lover, cult movie enthusiast, and modern day Renaissance man. He hopes to shark cage dive sometime in the next few years and enjoys travel and good natural root beer. Visit his web site at http://www.picklepress.net.
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