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The Angelus

On a Dark & Barren Land

(Gutterth; US: 8 Oct 2011; UK: 8 Oct 2011)

The Angelus likes to take things slow. Beats tend toward the plodding and rhythms might be described as “dirgelike,” while frontman Emil Rapstine’s lugubrious vocals convey a weighty gloom antithetical to what the phrase “rock band” conjures up. We might be looking at the birth of a new genre here: dirge-rock? Funerock? Not as in “fun” but as in “funeral,” as these tunes swell heavily with portent and gloom. Opener “All Is Well” combines vocals reminiscent of plainsong chant with glacially slow chord progressions, and that’s about as lighthearted as things get. Tracks like “Turned to Stone” and “Crimson Shadow” rely on vocal repetition and crashing minor chords to convey a sense of dread rarely heard outside of metal. The Angelus is assuredly not that, despite their fondness for distorted guitar, but it is a band that takes a certain grim glee in being unremittingly dark. Pop in the CD and, er, have fun, kids.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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