Edvard Munch once wrote, "Illness, insanity and death are the black angels that kept watch over my cradle and accompanied me all my life." The Black Angels tuck this cheery little epigram into the triptych of the beautifully eye-popping design of their debut album. They make good on their implied promise with a dense sonic palette that owes much to the Velvet Underground's seductive wall of noise. Produced to sound like it was recorded in the bottom of a well, the band's reverb-soaked mid-tempo grind slowly builds up over 10 extended cuts that draw you into a world full of violence, pointless rage and madness, a world that reflects the dysfunctional times we live in. When lead vocalist Maas, whose hopeless moan sounds like the ghost of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, sings, "The empire is . . . preaching to the choir, and that choir is deaf and blind," it's hard not to picture George W.'s bland, empty smirk.
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