Looking back at The Black Angels' 13-year career, it's a wonder it took the group so long to name an album Death Song. The Austin-based collective originally took its name from The Velvet Underground classic "The Black Angel's Death Song," as befits its dark, droning take on hard-edged psychedelia. The Black Angels' Death Song, however, is far from some kind of VU tribute. While continuing to evolve the seething, hypnotic tradition laid down by Lou Reed, John Cale, and company in the 1960s, The Black Angels have delivered an enormous and frighteningly timely fifth album full of uniquely trippy anthems to oblivion.
The opening tom hits and fuzzbox riffs that start Indigo Meadow give the indication that this is yet another turn on the Black Angels' merry-go-round of stoner rock and neo-psychedelia. However, the third song, "Don't Play with Guns," takes a decided turn with its big pop single hook, and the follow-ups "Holland" and "The Day" follow suit, as songs that are more carefully structured than the usual two-chord repetition that we've grown to expect. Not that there's anything wrong with the sound of bands like Spacemen 3 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but after several albums based on repetition, this is a pleasant, unexpected change for the Austinites.
My Chemical Romance have announced The Black Parade/Living With Ghosts, a reissue of their 2006 album The Black Parade to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its release. The band excited fans around the world earlier this month with the prospect of a potential reunion, but later confirmed that the only thing in the works was the anniversary re-release. The Black Parade/Living With Ghosts is out September 23 via Reprise in a 2xCD package 3xLP vinyl set. Living With Ghosts features unreleased demos and rare mixes from the Black Parade sessions. It also features “The Five of Us Are Dying (rough mix),” an “early version” of the song that would eventually become “Welcome to the Black Parade.”
This disc is supposed to hurt. Just look at the program: it starts with Crumb's Black Angels for electric string quartet, a work that is the aural equivalent of Coppola's Apocalypse Now, and ends with Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8, a work that is either the aural equivalent of a monument to the victims of war and fascism written in the ruins of Dresden or the musical equivalent of a suicide note written before the composer joined the Communist Party. With the spooky and evocative performances of Thomas Tallis Spem in Alium, Istvan Marta's Doom. A Sigh, and Charles Ives' There They Are!, this disc is so painful it could be the soundtrack for an unmade Kubrick movie. The question is, is this disc supposed to hurt so much? The Kronos Quartet is a harsh and aggressive ensemble with an angular approach to rhythm and structure and an overwhelming need to assert its individual and collective identity.