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.
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.
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.
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.
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……