How good can a bad trip sound? When you're being dosed by the Black Angels, bad karma can conjure up some very impressive sounds, and on the band's fifth full-length album, 2017's Death Song, their moody psychedelic attack is executed with an impressive level of skill and focus. From a performance aspect, Death Song (a title the Black Angels have clearly been waiting to use since they bought their first distortion pedal) ranks with the band's very finest work. Here, the musicians sound tight and full of purpose, without losing the foggy tone that plays a serious role in their music. The clouds of guitar fuzz and waves of echo give the songs the malevolent trippiness they demand while drummer Stephanie Bailey keeps the rhythms crisp and propulsive, and her solid foundation allows the other musicians greater room to move. Alex Maas' lead vocals are at once cool and commanding as he plumbs the depths of numbers like "I'd Kill for Her," "Comanche Moon," and "Medicine," and the guitar army of Christian Bland, Jake Garcia, and Kyle Hunt (all of whom double on other instruments) delivers the shuddery atmosphere that has become the Black Angels' trademark. As is also a tradition with the Black Angels, Death Song is an album that's big on cool sounds and not as strong in terms of songs (despite the title), and if you're searching for compelling melodies or hooks, this album may not be your cup of acid. But if you're in the market for an album that will summon the dark atmospheres, Death Song certainly delivers the goods, and it demonstrates that the Black Angels slowly but surely improve each time they go into the studio.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming