The Black Rose by Black Angel

Black Angel would have sounded right in place along side such powerhouse English alternative 80s acts as The Cult and The Sisters Of Mercy. Their sound even brings to mind acts from this side of the pond such as Screaming Trees and Mary My Hope. And that’s okay because this is album takes me back to the 80s in the GOOD way.

The Black Rose was released on April Fool’s Day but there’s nothing to laugh at on this record. These rhythm-oriented songs are nice and ballsy and incorporate the darker elements of bar rock. The gothic elements are there present. This record digs deeper to give you something that sounds like a backcountry balladeer set against a wall of guitar riffs. And the bass on songs like All Or Nothing conjure images of the tipsy dancer in the bar who refuses to sit down until her song on the jukebox ends.

Take Me Down is more solemn and the lyrics flow like an old singalong folk song. I caught myself singing along to the chorus. The lyrics on Look Me In The Eye carry the recurring theme throughout the album; as though addressed to a lady of dubious intention who’s done wrong, or maybe about to be done wrong. The same is true for the subsequent track, Sinner. Carnival Man opens with a dark organ and sits you down to tell the tale of a festive killer.

All in all, The Black Rose satisfies. This album works in a goth club, a biker bar, or on your car stereo.

https://blackangelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-black-rose

In addition to the review Jaret had a chance to interview Matt of Black Angel 🙂 Please enjoy

Jaret : What inspired ‘The Black Rose’?

Matt: Good question, there wasn’t anything specific, I just have to keep writing, as soon as I finish one album, I get right into the next one. With Black Angel I knew there would be a five album progression for sure and I had all the names of the albums mapped out years ago, so it just felt natural when I finished Prince of Darkness to start on The Black Rose. I always tell myself to give myself a breather for a few months but I can barely get past a few days.

Prince of Darkness | Black Angel (bandcamp.com)

Jaret: Who are your influences and what did you take away from those artists?

Matt: My influences are 100% Goth acts from the 80’s – to be specific, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, Bauhaus, Killing Joke, and The Damned, those are my keys influences, they wrote the best Gothic music – and in my eyes that has never been surpassed. Before I start writing I tend to listen to the these guys, in fact I just listen to their music all the time anyway, whether I’m writing or not – and each of them has something a little bit different – for example Billy Duffy from The Cult is my guitar hero, Peter Murphy is a vocal gymnast, Siouxsie has this fantastic intricate song writing ability, The Damned are just all out hundred percent top bollocks and energy and The Sisters of Mercy, especially on Floodland just encapsulated what Gothic Rock really was for me.

Billy Duffy (The Cult)

Jaret: Do you draw inspiration from sources outside of music, per se?

Matt: I guess life…. Most of my songs in someway are about relationships with people – and of course we are always learning, so there is always something new to write about on each new record. When I write it’s always about personal relationships, I have no interest in politics or anything like that it’s always about life experiences, and they say that is the best thing to write about, what do you have experienced yourself.

Jaret: Please describe a typical day in the studio. What is the chemistry like?

Matt: That’s another good question, I found with my writing process that if I set time aside and I sit down and decide ‘this is the time I’m going to write’, I can pretty much guarantee that it is not gonna happen. I am in the fortunate position that I do have a studio on my property so whenever I feel the need I can get something down whether it’s a vocal or a drum idea etc. I also carry around a digital recorder as there’s nothing more frustrating than losing that pearl of wisdom idea that you just came up with just because you couldn’t find a way to capture it. The whole process is fairly solo from the beginning, I normally write about 40 songs and then cull about 30 of those down to a good solid 10, hopefully by that point I’ve got a rough outline of how I want the record to sound if not I keep deleting and I keep writing. It’s not until the music is nearly 100% finished that I send tracks over to Corey for him to do his vocal magic.

Jaret: What’s next for you? How are you forming/adapting your plans in the age of COVID

Matt: Covid isn’t an issue for us, since then and during that time, we’ve managed to put two records out. We did think we were going to embark on a major record label deal in the near future but these things are always hugely complicated and there are a lot of ramifications to think about, so that’s not gonna happen for right now. We are still interested in getting our music out to a wider audience so we will still be seeking a publishing deal with a label somewhere. We would also like to play some festivals, it’s tricky for us to tour right now as with our individual careers there are so many commitments that are difficult to get around – but! – we would like to play, and we are hoping that more people will invite us to do so. It’s defo on the cards and will happen for sure.

Jaret: What is your take on the current state of the dark music “scene”?

Matt: The good thing is that people can easily create and release music, and that is amazing in itself. The other side of that is I do think the music industry, Gothic and Darkwave / Post-punk included, that maybe there is so much music out there – is that good or bad? Only you can decide. If we were to specifically look at Gothic music, well, when I got into it, that started over 30 years ago and everything had a certain sound and a certain flavor, the ‘goth’ umbrella these days seems to have grown a little bit wider, but I’m certainly not a gatekeeper and things do change and develop. I would say that I was a fan of the whole process in the 80s where a band would be groomed and produced and the music that they put out is what we consider as the classic Gothic music of today – and frankly no one has even come close to surpassing that.

Black Angel (blackangelmusic.com)

Jaret: Any final thoughts? (Impressions, opinions, funny thoughts, etc.)

Matt: I surely appreciate you reaching out for this interview and helping to keep the scene alive at Sounds and Shadows, I think this genre of music is really special and anything we can do to keep it going can only be a good thing…Black Angel will continue to do so for sure……

Hot new releases I am thankful for: Sunshine Blind-Icy Men-Swansect-Schedule IV/Heavy Water Factory-Mark e Moon

I am sitting here on Thanksgiving thinking on all the great things in the last two years this page has brought me. The wonderful people I have come in contact with and now call friends. The wealth of music that has opened up for me. The way this page has grown in readership, content, and me as a writer. The podcast has been a real hit right from the starting gate and it gets me excited for the future. I have added in new voices like Collin, Katy, and Adrian. I wanted to take a moment to thank you all who read, submit, and have open minds to find and support new music. These are intense times, art and each other is what will help us get through them. All of you are what makes my future seem bright and meaningful. I hope you that believe in the power of music reach out today and show an artist you love that they are important to you. Maybe sharing something of theirs, buying their art, or sending them a message letting them know they matter to you. Here is some of what I am enjoying today.

Caroline and I at Stoneburner

Caroline Blind – Need to Say

https://carolineblind.bandcamp.com/releases

Sunshine Blind was a band essential to my musical evolution. Caroline has been a groundbreaking voice in the goth/industrial genre since I first discovered what that meant. A women who Andrew Eldrich said was “too goth” for him to play with. Her release Liquid really opened my eyes to the broader world of possibility in dark music. (If you have never listened to it you really need to get on that right away). Recently she released a cover of The Swans God Damn The Sun which was majestic, tragic, and gorgeous. Tomorrow her new original single Need to Say drops. I was lucky enough to hear it and I cannot stress the amount of power and emotion this song summoned. It was a vast change from her previous style. A slow heart wrenching ballad so personal and tortured I found myself with wet eyes and a quivering lip. To anyone who has known a crucial loss this is art at it’s most powerful to punch a hole in your chest and hold your heart. You will want to make it a part of your collection.

Icy MenUninhabited Buses EP on Cold Transmission Records

https://icymen.bandcamp.com/album/uninhabited-buses

Ukrainian Coldwave Post Punk Artists Icy Men have just released a new EP on Cold Transmission. I was immediately struck by how different this sounded from their other material. I think part of what makes Icy Men so intense is the mechanical urban feel of the music. I always think of subway tunnels and empty spaces. The lyrics are mostly in either Russian or Ukrainian (So I can’t understand) but the delivery and cadence of that low octave powerful drone put me in mind of Ian Curtis. The bass lines are forceful and thick. The remix of Carlo Onda is such a thumping jam of weighty low end with a sinister slashing guitar riff that crackles with electricity. The EP also features a remix of the song Raindrops from one of our favorite Philly synth wizards Kiss the Whip. Its such a surreal experience hearing the light dancing pop beats straight out of a John Hughes movie delivered with the power and brevity of Lytvyn and Den. The whole EP really transports you to the isolated streets of Kyiv. Fans of chilling dark melodies will be excited to hear Icy Men.

https://swansect.bandcamp.com/album/s-t-2

Swansect – S-T

Swansect the project of our very own Adrian has released this new EP S/T. I know they felt a little tentative of using the page to cover their new single and EP. Luckily for all of you I don’t care about standing on such ceremony and wanted to share this with you. This album is so hard to put in a box or describe. A truly daring artistic endeavor using sounds and ambient effects to set a mood. The tone and expression of each of these 5 tracks takes a drastically different direction. It’s frightful and truly outside of genre. Adrian’s voice roars from inside a gaping chasm. The drum beats of heavy handed and pound from inside you. This is a journey into the unknown I really enjoyed.

Heavy Water Factory – Remix of Schedule IV “Fault

https://scheduleiv.bandcamp.com/album/fault-heavy-water-factory-remix?fbclid=IwAR0dd_-GZZdHyJ0d9bhYrpY8iiRDzTEFWyEeVtrCv-tq8L__b8_Kq8M0_qk

Another blast from my past Jesse McClear of Detroit Industrial royalty Heavy Water Factory have come out of the darkness of the last 14 years with some amazing new material. Today it’s this remix of our friends Schedule IV. This remix is crackling purple lightning shooting out of the Emperor’s hands. Always one of my favorite Schedule IV tracks for Steph’s piercing power and sinister growl. McClear has infused it with a perfectly balanced electronic club beat sure to blow the roof off of your next party. I was smacking the steering wheel so hard to this beat I almost went off the road.

Lust For Nothing – Tired of Thee Unknown

https://lustfornothing.bandcamp.com/album/tired-of-thee-unkown?fbclid=IwAR3hFOW5JHaKviLP1-0z-7lGIZpU39h9vpollm6Bl5aCSYG_OgVhU23Xpfs

Philly’s lord of Darkness Michael Sky has just unleashed a new Lust For Nothing EP with two tracks. I was a huge fan of their first album (See Previous Review). These new songs are a huge leap forward in both emotion and production. Sky has this inane sense of the line between fiery energetic uptempo electronic and something sinister that almost puts me in mind of 1980’s The Damned. These songs will both get a lot of play in my rotation.


Mark e Moon – Refer

https://markemoon1.bandcamp.com/album/refer

We were recently on a compilation with Mark e Moon and I feel in love with his imagery rich lyrics and bottom of the well rich voice. This has tones of Mission UK and Sisters old school goth. Blended with crisp tight keyboard melodies and drum beats. A little extra sizzle with my darkness is never bad. Moons voice is really what holds everything together and I am going to deep dive this album soon.