These are busy people. This year alone, No One, Sam and Brian opened for black metal legends Watain at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, collaborated with Mayhem’s Manheim and Hellhammer, put out a full-length album (Fury Nocturnus) and a compilation (Pennhurst/Xesse) under the Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy (T.O.M.B.) moniker, plus another full-length via dark blues act Dreadlords.
Death Angel is Dreadlords’ long-awaited debut album – their demo hit last year (we reviewed it here ) – and it builds on their early work in expected and unexpected ways. All but one of the tracks from the demo are back in rerecorded form, and one of the first things you’ll notice is how much No One’s voice has improved. Opener “Going To The Well” is a stomping murder sermon that ably introduces the band: bayous blues riffs swimming in distortion and reverb underneath crooning vocals that sound like the bastard spawn of a Satanic orgy involving Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Danzig, King Dude and Chelsea Wolfe.
Throughout the album esoteric instrumentation including bone chimes, occult bells, and a singing bowl, as well as banjo and violin, add colour. Closing track “Odin” is an almost T.O.M.B.-esque sonic assault full of howling feedback and apocalyptic groans; on the other side of the spectrum “Lives In Me” is a surprisingly upbeat, almost jaunty acoustic ditty. Throughout, modern instrumentation and techniques subvert age-old blues and folk tropes the same way references to declined credit cards and decidedly modern profanity (“shitting on God’s crown”) sneak into what on the surface appear to be traditional murder ballads.
Lyrically, Death Angel brings in everything from storytelling blues and folklore to Southern Gothic literature, black metal and the Bible, with plenty of references to parricide, burning churches, grave desecration and nailing Jesus to a tree (and that’s all in one song). Think the Old Testament re-imagined in the swamps and forests of southern Louisiana and populated by guys in Burzum shirts.
Death Angel is out on Dec. 8th via King Dude’s Not Just Religious Music.