Massive Attack

Angel

Composed by Andrew "Mushroom" Vowles / Grantley Marshall / Horace Hinds / Robert "3D" del Naja

Song Review by

Utter menace, complete annihilation, and love in a world without light are all hinted at in what is perhaps the darkest, heaviest song Massive Attack has ever recorded. The first track on their third LP, 1998's Mezzanine, "Angel" kicks off a set that places the band in dirgier and more organic waters than they had previously tread, as they struggled to overcome the burden of being the superstars they had become. The process of recording this time out was, as Daddy G explained, "[starting] something we've got to finish. It was a much bigger thing than any member of the band." While the beat here is slow, druggy, and deep, what ultimately drives "Angel is the wall of guitars that are reminiscent of a very early Cure. They are relentless, insistent, and hypnotic, and are the perfect foil to the sparse vocals, performed by longtime honorary bandmember Horace Andy. Leaving the safe boundaries of his reggae waters, Andy delivers a performance that takes on tones and implications that one would never expect. When his voice cuts through the music, repeating, "love you, love you, love you," one can't help but think that maybe he doesn't. And, as his voice soars over the sonic crescendo, these two seemingly disparate styles become as supple as glove leather. Within the space of several minutes of utter unease, Massive Attack unravel every popular conception of who they are and what they do in a near apocalyptic re-creation of themselves.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Mezzanine 1998 Universal / Virgin / Virgin EMI
No Image 1998 Circa 6:15
Pi 1998
Original Soundtrack
Pi
Thrive Records 6:09
Club Hits '98-99 1998
Various Artists
Virgin 6:17
Singles 90/98 1998 EMI Music Distribution 5:24
Best Laid Plans 1999
Original Soundtrack
Virgin 6:18
No Image 1999
Mantra Mix 2000
Various Artists
Indie 6:17
Snatch 2001
Original Soundtrack
Universal International 6:16
Blue Lines/Protection/Mezzanine 2002 Virgin / Wild Bunch 6:20
FIFA 2000: Album 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 5:22
Collected 2006 VCT / Virgin 6:14
No Image 2011
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 5:25
Now That's What I Call Running 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music / Universal Music TV 5:24
blue highlight denotes editor's pick