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The eagerly awaited and much delayed (our fault!) new studio album from Black Boned Angel. Described by Rock-A-Rolla magazine as the bands "most sombre and realised work to date", and who are we to argue ?
Sharing a similarly
bleak ground to Corrupted, Sunn 0))) and Earth, New Zealand's Black
Boned Angel return with their fourth full length album 'Verdun', and
perhaps their most sombre and fully-realised work to date.
Available on CD in a card gatefold sleeve (limited to 1000 copies only, any repress will not be in same sleeve due to cost) and limited edition 500 only vinyl LP. The CD version contains an exclusive extra extra short piece called 'Tears Strike The Mile High Gong'.
CD Tracklisting (pressed as one continuous
52 minute track)
"When one heard
the whistle in the distance, ones whole body contracted to resist the
excessively potent vibrations of the coming explosion; and at each
repetition it was a whole new attack, a new fatigue, a new suffering.
Under this regime, the most solid nerves cannot resist for long. To die
from a bullet seems to be nothing; at least parts of our being remain
intact; but to be dismembered, torn to pieces, reduced to pulp, without
head, without arms, without legs, flattened and opened, this is a fear
that flesh cannot support and which is fundamentally the greatest
suffering. Having despaired of living amid such horror, we begged God
not to have us killed- the transition is too atrocious- but just to let
us be dead. we had but one desire; the end!"
"It sounds sort of stupid, especially considering the often cringe inducing "open minded" statements that come from the drone scene/community, but I'd definitely consider myself a drone purist, a drone elitist, whatever you want to call it. I've listened to all of Sunn O)))'s experimental pieces once at the most; give me Grimmrobe demos, give me Like Drone Razors Through Flesh Sphere, give me anything but latte-sipping morons (looking at you, SoMA) that try to turn what is the finest caveman style genre out there into fine art. The last thing I'm looking for when I'm keen for some low tuned, super slow hypnosis is some experimental ambient with low pitched hungarian vocals, or laptop glitch, or a brass section etc etc etc. None of that shit, give me something like this album.
Black Boned Angel understand what drone is about; no vocals, very simple drums, heaps of feedback and massive guitar riffs that repeat over and over until your eardrums are all loose and bleeding from the vigorous bass-rape. Things are established well enough in "Prayer Sodden Holes"- little in the way of subtleties; an intro establishes tension, a massive drumbeat comes in, and then a huge downtuned riff explodes, and repeats for quite a while. Eventually some feedback comes in and layers itself for a fair time. That's it, that's all there is. "But where are the gregorian-inspired vocals? Where is the merzbow collaboration?" You may ask, and it's with great pleasure that I can tell you there's none of it to be seen here. No japanese dudes with laptops, no eastern european sound-designers. Just a few new zealanders with some very, very loud instruments.
Things do take a definite mellow turn in the second movement but that's great too; the fellows in BBA just collaborated with Nadja and it's obvious that hanging with Aidan and co. must've had some influence on them. Huge guitar notes soaring forlornly into the stratosphere over and over again, while some synths provide a minimal and perfect backdrop. It's majestic but yet really depressing and apocalyptic; I liken it to watching the nuclear missiles fly out from their bunkers as humanity's final sunset goes down in the distance. Really great, while still effectively keeping the atmosphere of doom, death and war - certainly something as long and drawn out as the WW1 battle of Verdun makes a very fitting concept to base a drone album on.
Black Boned Angel have kept things extremely simple here, and it's to their credit that they did. It's all very long and droney, sure, and it certainly won't set your world on fire unless if you're a massive drone fan, as this is almost as pure a distillation of drone doom as you can get. It's truly glorious, though, and the massive ending of the final track- the war choirs, the chords, the sounds of battle sound like Bolt Thrower covering Sunn O)))- is a really fitting ending. Not good if you want to impress hipster chicks with your knowledge of 20th century classical, perhaps, but perfect if you're out for some massive, thick-as-molasses drone doom that presses all the right buttons."
"The title of this album is Verdun, after the north eastern region of France where German and French troops clashed in a super bloody battle in 1916, leaving a quarter of a million casualties and at least half a million wounded. That should give you an idea of how grim this album is going to sound like. Then again, if you are familiar with the treble-fucking music of New Zealand’s Black Boned Angel you already know what you are in for. So you better come prepare. Wear armor and be pain-ready, though it’s nearly impossible to fathom in advance what you are about to witness. Beware boys, ‘cause you are about to get your brain rewired. Music wasn’t meant to be like this at all.
Think; extended guitars, strummed to max heaviness then left to simmer for as long as air will sustain a sound. They are heavy, a ok, but not only that, they wail and flail in unthinkable shapes and into ubiquitous sounds. At times there is almost a marine sense to them, like the ‘voice’ of big fish communicating underwater, like their big call for help, inadvertently calling its kind to the massacre.
There is despair in the air my friends. As I get into the twenty-fifth minute, there is despair like crazy. The bleak flavor of desolation, the broken sight of a tragic scene, the horrific sounds of the end of all that breathes and grows.
Come the thirty-sixth minute we hear an angelic chorus behind the feedback. That stuff is horrendous. Like listening to Carmina Burana and not thinking of the devil. The combination is unsettling because the chorus is barely audible and makes you question its existence. Imagine a few angels of doom just visiting as they drag the souls down. The music turns murky, there is noise saturation. Like it’s raining down fire. This goes on for minutes and it turns overwhelming come the fifty-minute mark. Battle sounds are in full bloom by then. The fight is at its fiercest. We are all at death’s door and this is just the beginning. Worse of all is knowing that after so much death, what comes after is the disease. The epidemic. To our relief, we may have to wait for the next record for that."
"Birchville Cat Motel may be dead, only to be replaced by the quite similar sounding, but much more massive and electronic flecked Our Love Will Destroy The World. But thankfully, Black Boned Angel, the other long running musical project of Campbell Kneale, lives on, with not one, but TWO new releases this list. The other, a second collaboration with like-minded musical heavies Nadja, and this, the latest full length after last year's devastating The Endless Coming Into Life.
Verdun, named for the legendary battle presumably, is almost like an Endless Coming part two, dialing back the sheer heaviness and exploring space and dynamics, but in the process, somehow sounding so much heavier. Three long songs, all tracked as a single 52 minute epic, takes ages to get going, which is just fine, in doom as in life, it's not about the destination it's about the journey, and BBA's journey is a death march through burning fields and soot filled skies, but that's a few minutes away. A slow slow slow build, all barely there ambience, before some massive drums kick in, and then it's JUST drums, pounding away, in a spaced out vacuum, spare but punishing, and then THE RIFF, a massive one, the sort of riff, that once written, becomes a part of the writer, and soon after the listener. Sleep has a few, Sabbath has lots, now BBA has one, a slow, slithery crawl, a handful of notes spread way out into a dark descending minor key melody, the drums, just there to drive it home, as this is the sort of riff that needs nothing else, the sort of riff any metalhead could listen to looped over and over and over forever. About 12 minutes in, the tone changes, some high end shimmer sneaks in, sheets of feedback, the riff is pulled apart, various notes left to ring out, the drums a little more active, before everything drops out completely, leaving just a distant keening riff, left to moan and groan, to ring out, mournful and so so doomy, at about the half hour mark, the main riff returns, but this time it's been transformed into something strangely melodic, almost like power metal played at 16rpm, epic, but still so slooooooow, building ever building, eventually crumbling into a swirling bit of noise and crumbled buzz, and a gorgeous classical chorus, a choir of voices just below the churning distorted surface, totally epic and weirdly haunting, the sounds of warfare, guns and planes and explosions, surfacing from below the sprawling low end rumble, eventually taking over completely, the last few minutes a harrowing collage of death and destruction, of bombs and the cries of the dying.
Definitely a different beast than many of the older BBA records, which blended the kitchen sink drones of Birchville Cat Motel with a sort of abstract black doom element, Verdun is more of a proper metal record, although to be sure 'proper metal record' is really relative, since as metal as this is, it's also just as much an experimental doomdronedirge record, regardless, it is maybe the most fully realized Black Boned Angel record yet, not sure if it's THAT RIFF, or because Kneale just keeps getting better and better, or because it's a concept record, so it's essentially a suite of interconnected songs. It's actually probably a little of all three, although as you might have guessed, we're definitely leaning toward THAT RIFF."
"As some of you may know, Campbell Kneale, Mr Birchville Cat Motel himself hung up his feline moniker at the end of last year to focus on his new project Our Love will Destroy The World. The good news is that his side project Black Boned Angel continues to go on strongly. I was a huge fan of his BCM project yet had never dabbled with Campbell’s drone-metal project, Black Boned Angel, a trio of Wellington musicians which includes James Kirk and Jules Desmond.. Fuck knows why really because I absolutely loved BCM’s Bird Sister Blasphemy. This, the band’s latest release on the awesome Riot Season, is an absolute gem. In fact it may be one of the finest doom records I have ever heard. The album itself lists three tracks but they are pressed as one continuous track. The titles references the battle of Verdun during World War One which claimed 250 000 lives. The thing I find interesting about the title is how tragic, military misadventures are a huge feature of schooling in the Antipodes and battles such as Gallipoli are etched into the psyche of most Australians and New Zealanders. Our understanding of war is sober, without glory and critical of the folly of war. In listening to Verdun it makes sense that the conflict is scored through crunching Sunn O))) riffs and futile drones. What lifts this above your average drone record is the addition of an operatic chorus belting out Wagnerian funereal hymns underneath the wall of crushing guitars. The effect is magic and somehow a natural fit for the horror that was Verdun. This record comes across a lot like Gorecki’s Misere on steroids. Riot Season are only releasing 1000 copies of this and you’d be smart to get one before they sell out. One of the best albums of 2009 so far."
NOISE NOISE NOISE
"The fourth studio album from New Zealand's Black Boned Angel finds erstwhile Birchville Cat Motel proprietor Campbell Kneale retreating ever deeper into drone-metal abyss, on this occasion fashioning a concept album dedicated to the Battle Of Verdun, one of the key points of conflict between French and German armies in the First World War. Stretched across a single, fifty-two minute track, the album takes a compelling and considered narrative arc, beginning with gloomy passages of bomb-drop kick drum plunges before starting up a fearsome SunnO))) style harmonised guitar riff. Whining, siren-like signals soon waft into the mix, eventually dispersing the more musical, doomy figures in favour of sparse horn blasts from across a wide stereo field - it's an evocatively spacious piece, conveying a real sense of cinematic scale, but it's not long before those low-frequency, distortion blasted harmonies fire up again, this time taking on a more melodious, funereal tone. Further compounding the growing sense of this being a requiem of sorts, dramatic choral samples emerge from the background, with globs of noise continually being piled on top before eventually the final ten minutes or so screeches into life, no longer resembling a doomy, sludge-laden affair but rather a furious, disorientating mixture of what sounds like shouting, gunfire and airborne assaults all caked in distortion and vast swathes of drone. Extreme and ferocious stuff this, but to Kneale's credit it's handled with an appropriate level of sobriety and reverence."
"Verdun marks the impressive return by Black Boned Angel. This battle-inspired album is the fourth full-length release from the Wellington band and continues their legacy of drone metal domination. Often compared with Corrupted, Sunn 0))) and Earth, BBA have managed to distance themselves with this fifty-two minute assault of dark devastating landscapes. Inspired by the WWI Battle of Verdun, BBA have managed to give justice to what was one of the most deadly battles in history.
The maturity of the band is evident in Verdun in comparison with their previous releases Eternal Love, Christ Send Light and The Endless Coming into Life. It seems that with this record Campbell Kneale has tried to transcend the origins of the group and really push the limits of their experimental inclinations.
While their trademark ambient drones and doom-laden riffs are present, there seems to be an added bleakness, possibly a reflection of Kneale¹s desire to really connect with the tragedy of the German-French conflict.
The desire to create a compelling and building narrative is evident in the fifty-two minute, one-track, Verdun. It begins with long gloomy passages of silence that are interjected with kick-drum notes. The randomness of these beats put the listener on edge and creates a sense of foreboding. Kneale slowly builds this tension through layers of discordant guitar notes that seem to menace and creep until occasional wails strike forth.
Suddenly, the noise descends and listeners are returned to silence that once again slowly disappears in the place of lone notes that break the silence. These notes seem to stand as a call to action that is answered with the inclusion of a choral ensemble. This intelligent addition to the score adds a godly, transcending quality that moves past the physical war to the conflict of morality and humanity that the original battle destroyed.
Upon reaching the final ten minutes the doom and staggered pace is replaced with a jumble of noise and terror created by electric notes and samples of gun shots and wails. Almost bordering on static this section builds and gathers in a disorientating movement that ends abruptly in silence.
While at times such an elaborate and conceptual album comes across at self-indulgent and egocentric it seems that in Kneale¹s case it is more the pursuit of perfection that has led to such a highly crafted and realised LP."
back....and I'm as happy as a little school girl. If you haven't had the
pleasure,..Black Boned Angel are a drone based outfit that runs
secondary along Sunno)))'s line of work. The first track...(well
fuck,....the ONLY track), is the title track....please be aware I'm
grinning like an undertaker typing this.
Please be aware...I LOVE this band.This release is consistent....and well recorded..I hope for more to spite the music business, and the music businesses LACK of knowledge....HAVE YOU SEEN SOME OF THE TRASH ON THE TONIGHT SHOWS?...you'd think Donavon was reincarnated. And we all know that's NOT needed."
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