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Album Review
The End

The End
by Black Boned Angel

Handmade Birds Records

Review Date
26th February 2013
Reviewed by
Nich Cunningham

Through out the landscape of New Zealand music there are often hidden or partially concealed gems: bands or individuals who follow a very specific line of inquiry, a line that does not necessarily intersect with the standard means of exposure. It would be a mistake to consider Black Boned Angel obscure but it would also be safe to say they concentrate on making music ahead of marketing. This latest album The End is the their swan song. But it is also their 12th full length release since 2003, many of which have been released internationally. Prolific and focused, Black Boned Angel produce high quality drone-driven Doom metal that possesses a hypnotic and compelling intensity.

Divided into three epic tracks, The End is mostly composed of layers of simple and repetitive themes that combine into a somnambular and expansive sound fields. Outside of Doom, these are elements also often found in experimental music so it is off little surprise that Black Boned Angel pedigrees includes such fine practitioners as Birchville Cat Motel, Sandoz Lab Technicians and 1/3 Octave Band. The album opens with the eponymous first track built around a crunchy heavily distorted bass over which a sparse guitar melody and screeching black metal vocal provide highlights along with minimal drum machine interjections. This is some classic Drone Doom and is not completely unlike Seven Angels from Earth 2.

The second track provides a shift - beginning with a choral section reminiscent of Gyorgy Ligeti's Aventures ( used to great effect by Kubrick in 2001:A Space Odyssey ). This section in turn gives way to more incredibly distorted drones which abruptly transforms themselves from a grim soundscape into a beautiful and uplifting chord progression with a nearly inaudible vocal melody and delicate piano phrases. This is quite possibly the standout moment on the album. But before any accusations of softening can be leveled at Black Boned Angel, track three provides a one way ticket to Norway with what is arguably the most conventional drone Doom track on the album. The vocal-esque sine tone present over the top of the guitars, bass and drums opens the piece to provide a sense of the infinite. This technique is employed to even greater effect in the last third of the song, providing a slightly humorous operatic effect as the track gradually winds down , devolving into a choked out fade.

This is not an album for casual listening: it is mediative. Flying in the face of Adorno's accusation against modern music, these tracks only work as a whole - they cannot be reduced down to a series of generic sections interchangeable with one another. If you only listen to one Doom album this year etc, etc. But seriously, the is a fine and immersive work that goes beyond the singular emotion often conveyed with this style. It is accomplished, varied and very well thought out; if this really is the end, then this is an appropriate swan song.


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