Posts Tagged ‘Mark Lanegan’

End Of The Trail Records – 13th August 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

In a world of intertext, whereby everything references something else, there’s something that goes beyond homage in referencing one’s influences in naming your band. Sure, it’s a nifty short-cut signpost indicating influences and origins, but Australian act Burning Jacobs Ladder – essentially the vehicle for Jake T Johnson – takes its name from a song by Mark Lanegan. This makes it cool practically by default, but it helps that BJL has got the songs to back it up.

With ‘Danger in Me’ he’s brought together a classic post-punk vibe with an early 90s alternative swagger. There are hints of late Psychedelic Furs later Jesus and Mary Chain, delivered with the knowing coolness of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Also in the mix is a gothy element, that makes something of a nod to the bombast of The Mission, but equally worthy of comparisons to the more contemporary Mayflower Madame. If this seems like a lot of touchstones and reference points, it serves to highlight just how strong a handle Johnson has on the style and the sound, and it all comes together perfectly here.

‘Danger In Me’ has a darkness and density, and it’s propelled by a tight, crisp drum track, chugging rhythm guitar, and an insistent four-square bassline of the kind that thrums along at just the right pace to elevate the pulse just that little bit (and reminds me more than just a little bit of ‘More’ by The Sisters of Mercy, who were always the kings of that tight three- or four-chord sequence thudded out with a strike on each beat). And then there’s the reverb, pitched just so, and the lead guitar sizzles around Johnson’s vocals as he wrestles with internal conflict.

Disclosure: I’m an absolute sucker for this strain of groove-orientated post-punk – but this is one of the best examples I’ve heard in a while: truly top drawer.

21st June 2021

Black Angel emerged four years ago, and released Kiss of Death in July of last year – an album that brought together Matt Vowles’ years of experience from being in and around the goth scene to recreate the spirit of 1985.

This time, Vowles and co have come out with a concept album for their third outing, which is ‘inspired by cinematic classics such as ‘Dracula’ (Gary Oldman-1992) and ‘Interview with a Vampire’ with contemporary inspiration on tracks like "Alive" and "Give It To Me’" from the modern aristocratic sophisticated vampires in ‘Underworld’.

The album’s concept, the blurbage explains, is ‘to take you on a journey. The record starts out with an introduction to set the tone and to put you in 10th century England. As our protagonist embarks on his pillage through the town, we hear screams from the villagers as they run for their lives. He’s the Prince Of Darkness and causes chaos and mischief wherever he goes’.

There’s a fine line between artistry and pretence, theatre and corn, and despite the concept that veers towards an amalgamation of all the clichés of goth distilled into a dozen tracks, Prince of Darkness once again nails that vintage goth sound, with ‘Alive’ melding the energy of early Mission with the mechanised drumming of The Sisters to create a swirling cyclone of tripwire guitars and gloom with a glint of joy.

The energy is sustained across the bulk of the album, and the vibe is very much a muscle-flexing dominance, delivered with a big, ballsy swagger: there’s a hefty whiff of testosterone and a barrel load of rock god posturing going down here, but it’s delivered with a knowing nod ‘Live to Love’ is a proper old-school rock ‘n’ roll stomper with a smoky vocal growling and grizzled over a piston-pumping beat and a wonderfully insistent bassline that nags away at a repetitive motif. It’s got that level of grab that immediately makes you want to stick the whole album on repeat, especially after ‘Turn Around’, which pushes the quiet / loud dynamic with a searing guitar line that’s right in the vein of The March Violets – it’s that flangey reverby chorus thing.

Vowles has some depth, and range, too – on some tracks, like ’Call the Night Part II’ he showcases a grainy croon reminiscent of Mark Lanegan, and it’s heavy timbre is well-suited to such expansive epics, and then again, on ‘Secretly’ we see a more soulful, even tender side, and ‘My Love’ goes all out for the heart on sleeve grand gesture. It’s theatrical, but at the same times feels emotionally sincere, and while the melody bears similarities to ‘The Scientist’ by Coldplay, it sounds like it’s being sung by James Ray, and it’s quite moving in a brooding, gothy way.

Throughout, the songwriting is solid, with guitar hooks galore and a taut rhythm section that forges that classic goth groove. There’s a clear lineage from its predecessor in that Prince of Darkness is very much old-school goth delivered with a subtly contemporary twist, but it sounds and feels more confident, more ambitious, and not just on account of its embracing an overarching concept. Prince of Darkness is the sound of a band really hitting their stride, and achieves the perfect marriage of concept and execution.