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Product Description

"Are they black?" - Iggy Pop. Formed in 2004 and hailing from the mescaline-infused outskirts of Austin, Texas, this gang of misfits has been on the road non-stop since their birth, performing at such venues as Sin-e, the Empty Bottle, and Spaceland. In early 2006, the band's self-titled debut EP was dubbed highly recommended in Spin Magazine, and received heavy radio airplay on such influential stations as KEXP and BBC Radio 1 by Zane Lowe. In January 2006, the EP stood tall at #28 on the CMJ 200, a rare feat for a four-song introductory EP. This year will see the band spread their lysergic wings across the globe, performing live throughout North America, the UK, Europe, and Australia. The Black Angels reach high and stretch out over the ten songs on their introductory album "Passover" with trance-inducing guitar lines from Christian Bland, Nate Ryan's filthy medical dumpster bass, additonal four and six string work from Kyle Ryan, and the grizzly preacher vox of lead shaman Alex Maas. Fifth track "Black Grease" is a bluesy monster full of swagger propelled by primitive beats of drummer Stephanie Bailey and nouring drone of organist Jennifer Raines; the gritty twang of "Bloodhounds on My Trail" seems like a perfect lost 'nugget' from the golden age of garage rock; and the other eight all seem like singles as well. The debut full-length from The Black Angels comes down as strong as the Day of Judgment. Drone of organist Jennifer Raines.

Every now and again a band capable of not just capturing the spirit of a bygone era but portraying it with uncanny authenticity and accuracy arrives, and in an era where music lovers seem increasingly ravenous for psychedelic-inflected rock, Austin's the Black Angels are precisely that act. Following on the heels of their recent Turn On, Tune In, Drone Out EP, the quintet transports listeners to a land of napalm-bright LSD flashbacks with an elegantly unholy sound that proves both eerie and ethereal. "Young Men Dead" and "The Sniper at the Gates of Heaven" walk the line between celebratory dance and grief-filled dirge. These tracks unnerve the conscious mind with unsettling drones and vocals that seem to have emerged from some parallel universe where the struggle, strife, promise, and even the seedy underbelly of the Love Generation lives on in each primal drum beat and louder-than-loud bent note from a guitar that could not have been built anywhere on Earth, but has been drenched with the sweat and blood of a generation on the verge of either victory or collapse. If there is an act in American popular music with a future brighter and vaster than the cosmos, the Black Angels are it. --Jedd Beaudoin
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 11, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Light In The Attic
  • ASIN: B000EPF76S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,502 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By K. Sullivan VINE VOICE on August 21, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Passover is just a phenomenal debut (full length) record for The Black Angels. I have not heard any contemporary record that so strongly fits the 60's psychedelic rock vibe. That said, I do not intend it as a compliment or complaint, just a statement of fact. I am neither a product of the 60's, nor do I care a great deal for its music. That said, this recording sounds to me like it was transplanted from that era - in tone at least. Something must set it apart, however, because if it were straight up 60's, as I said, I probably would not like it.

The rhythms are "hard" (not fast); driving and pulsing. The sound is mesmerizing, hypnotic. There is a drone to the music and an equally effective drone to the vocals in many instances. The lead vocalist is a great compliment to the music. Great guitar licks that supplement the rhythm are sprinkled throughout. There is occasional dissonance and distortion.

The music is blues-infected; the lyrics are plaintive, politically informed, and socially conscious. Perhaps they sound like a throwback to the 60's in part because a common subject is war (they obviously reference Vietnam and Iraq). There is a depth of symbolism in some songs and a more overt meaning in others. And despite the fact they can best be categorized as psychedelic, there is a lot more going on. The final listed track hints at U2's Bad and the hidden track is mostly folksy acoustic. This is a very talented group.

It's just a very solid recording. Dim the lights, turn it up, and let the music wash over you. This group and particularly this recording are tremendous finds.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2007
Format: Audio CD
If Jim Morrison had ever gotten depressed and started a pyschedelic hard-rock/blues band, then the result might sound something like Black Angels.

And this fledgling Austin band introduced their fuzzy-rock, blues-toned rock in their first full-length album, "Passover." It takes a little while to fully sink in, like the effects of a good wine -- but when it does, this haunting rock music is intoxicating.

It opens with a bluesy guitar playing, only to burst into a hypnotically fuzzy melody, full of drums and bass. "We'll fly for the hills/pick up your feet, let's go/we'll head for the hills/pick up steel on your way," Alex Maas intones in his rough, compelling voice. "Fire for the hills, pick up speed, and let’s go..."

It continues with the slow-burning, mellotron-edged "The First Vietnamese War," a dark rocker that slowly pulls listeners deeper into its orbit. With the songs that follow, the Black Angels plunge into taut blues-rock, ghostly hard-rock, fuzzy bass melodies, cycling electric guitars, supernatural dirges, and even a plaintive song about "he's fighting in the Iraq war/what for?"

The Black Angels aren't really typical psychedelica, hard rock or blues. Instead, they pursue a ghostly, shamanic sound that is sort of a mad, sizzly mishmash of all of the above. It's like the Velvet Underground, Clinic, the Doors and Syd Barrett all returned to jam together in the desert.

Droning and cycling guitars and the fuzzy bass are the most prominent instruments here, locked into kinetic riffs and Ouroborous loops, and twisted up in some very solid drums. The effect is hypnotic. The psychedelic, slightly softer edge comes from some very subtle organ and keyboard, but not in a terribly prominent way.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By music obsessor on April 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
i know, a bold statement. but this album is amazing. the black angels call their music "native american drone 'n' roll." it's actually a pretty fitting description. as some newspaper columnists have noted, their music seems to be creedence clearwater revival meets the doors meets the texas chainsaw massacre. the music is dark, brooding, and deceptively monotonous. their sound is quite original and brings together a lot of different instruments, including the mysterious drone machine, harmonica, slide guitar, and even a bit of violin on the final track.

another thing of note about this album is the relevancy of the lyrics. while most of their songs deal with death, destruction and other apocalyptic themes, they also apply these images to contemporary problems, most specifically the iraq war. in fact, there is a hidden track (and i am usually opposed to this type of hijinks) at the end of the album, which is an acoustic song about a guy who goes to fight in iraq and never comes home. along the same lines, the first vietnamese war is a powerful song (although about the vietnam war, i believe the band is asserting the connection between the two, futile war efforts) and empire addresses some of the issues behind the iraq war.

overall, the music is a trip. fusing together the darker moments of the velvet underground (think heroin, femme fatale, etc.), the satanic themes of early blues music (ie. the myth that robert johnson sold his soul to the devil for his guitar skills) and their own sense of apocalyptic urgency, the black angels have crafted a modern masterpiece.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Along with Darker My Love's "2" and the Black Angels' follow-up, "Directions to See A Ghost" this is a strong recent record in the droning, doomed, and dirge-soaked genre of neo-psychedelia. I was frankly expecting, based on the band's name and description, a far more derivative band, and I am relieved to find I was mostly wrong. If this band can stay focused and progress, they might make a brilliant record.

For a debut, this is one solid album. I'd hesitate for five stars only because I predict they will top this as they grow into their songwriting and realize a more complicated lyrical and musical vision. While certainly not only the Doors (of which I am not a fan!) but The Gun Club (both lyrical and vocal similarities to Jeffrey Lee Pierce) and Echo & the Bunnymen (not in the sound so much as the post-punk attitude and their sinister yet accessibly pop-oriented vibe) will echo here, they create an appealingly grim sound scape for these death-haunted, obsessively structured, somber songs.

Another contemporary "Black" band, "Black Mountain," may also come to mind in their shared quest to uncover an overlooked mother lode of late-60s psych, less flower power and frippery, more stripped-down and brutal. This is a harsher, gnawed, numbed entry into the psyche. It can be oddly erotic, but dredging up a lustful, aching, mournful passion. They remind me of a lovelorn person's sleepless nights.

The tribal drums here carry most songs along in the spirit of Mo Tucker from the Velvet Underground, while capturing the desert rawness of Roky Erickson's band 13th Floor Elevators.
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