Dropsonic: Insects with Angel Wings

Adam Besenyodi

Like The Cult a generation before, Dropsonic has picked up the heavy metal-cum-post-punk mantle and run with it. But for being what could amount to the heir to an heir, Dropsonic is successful.


Insects with Angel Wings

Label: Rowdy
US Release Date: 2005-08-23
UK Release Date: Available as import

Like The Doors or Queen performing with new lead singers in recent years, at first listen, Insects with Angel Wings plays like a revamped Led Zeppelin reunion album -- something Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham might have recorded without Robert Plant. But with multiple listens, Dropsonic reveals that flaunting their influences with careless abandon can lead to flashes of greatness. Make no mistake, what Dropsonic is doing is nothing new. Like The Cult a generation before, Dropsonic has picked up the heavy metal-cum-post-punk mantle and run with it. But for being what could amount to nothing more than the heir to an heir, Dropsonic is successful.

Building off of the strengths of 2002's Belle, Insects with Angel Wings finds core trio of Dan Dixon, Brian Hunter, and Dave Chase paying homage to the rock gods that came before them, while carving out a solid foundation for them to construct their own mythology. Opening with Dixon's guitar scratch, "Summer's Gone" claws and scrapes its way through a near-perfect four-minute exercise blending classic rock, blues, and southern country rock that Collective Soul hasn't yet been able to accomplish. And the Dropsonic trio manages to produce a sound bigger and fuller than Collective Soul ever has in a dozen years trying.

With a guitar lead-in so steeped in '70s hard rock, "Rotten Luck" could be a long-lost Zoso b-side. Layered and forceful dynamics ripple throughout the track, giving the song an epic feel. Hunter's sparse but powerful drumming is perfectly complemented by Chase's bass in this slow burn that grows and pushes and stretches into a full-blown jam. When Dixon finally lets loose with tandem howls from both his voice and his guitar, there is no doubt about the band's influence or potential.

Insects with Angel Wings sometimes feels a bit schizophrenic in how close to the surface the influences lay, but these are also some of the strongest tracks on the album. Proving that the white space is as important to the complete canvas as splashes of color, "It Makes No Difference" tempers Hunter's drumming with quiet moments of Chase's bass and Dixon's Bowie-meets-Orgy's Jay Gordon vocal vibe. While the lyrics tell a tale of a level playing field ("It makes no difference what you want / we all go down by the wrecking ball / and it makes no difference who you are / kings, queens, and movie stars"), it becomes obvious over the course of this album that Dropsonic are moving above the rest and headlong towards success.

While not a top-to-bottom masterpiece, Insects with Angel Wings has more highs than lows. For every directionless "Headless", which meanders for nearly eight minutes, there is a focused gem like "My Girl". A three-and-a-half minute harmonica blues stomper that demands you sit up and take notice, "My Girl" finds Dixon wishing and wailing out in front of Hunter's Bonham beats that he had never met the woman. It's a centerpiece cut if ever there was one.

With the classic rock reunions that highlighted Live 8 and the Rolling Stones on tour behind another new album, it seems the time might be right for Dropsonic to make their move. If nothing else, the boys of Dropsonic have the potential to be the leaders of a straight-ahead hard rock revival that would benefit from some new blood. It's going to be fun to watch these guys continue to develop.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.