By Chris Pacifico
The debut release from this Austin sextet can be summed up with just one word: peyote. Even though Passover emits a vibe that makes it feel like the ghost of Carlos Castaneda was present in the studio during recording, The Black Angels are most assuredly the quintessential under-the-radar band to keep your eyes on for 2006. Their songs create dark psychedelic strata with a wavy deliverance that oozes with an atmosphere of desert decadence from a scene in the film Natural Born Killers alongside the tense waver in the voice of singer Alex Maas.
The opener, "Young Men Dead," lays down the foundation for the sonic icy tundra that looms over the album's duration. The exceptional synergy among the band members is omnipresent; the best example of that would have to be Christian Bland’s eerie guitar licks and Jennifer Raines' slithering organ lines on the "The First Vietnamese War" while Maas sings ever so hauntingly, "We got off that boat/Charlie’s everywhere."
Another element which renders Passover as a rather unique listen is the delicate wall of sound peppered throughout the tracks with the body of an audible helix that is just flat-out trippy and paranoid at times. "Sniper at the Gates of Heaven" is a crisply serrated jangle adjacent to the rattlesnake tambourine and drummer Stephanie Bailey’s wisping cymbals and plenty of reverb as these angels showcase their knack for spacing out into a droning vortex on "The Prodigal Son." Maas and Bailey brandish stellar precision and chemistry with a vocal/drumbeat treble that recalls Jim Morrison and John Densmore. "Black Grease" is some grimy soul guile with a wafting Eastern chill, while "Bloodhounds on my Trail" is rife with some fiery opium den blues.
An instant underground classic, Passover is a kaleidoscopic journey that fills in all the middle-ground that exists between Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, Joy Division, and My Bloody Valentine with the Black Angels' own mind-boggling impetus thrown into the mix. A must-have for 2006 as well as a contender for one of the top ten albums of the year.
JamBase | Philly
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