The Black Angels have always resembled the stoners who other stoners fear, and maybe that's the truth. Their riffs sound like heavy metal being played through an impenetrable waterfall of boiling toxic waste, but on their new Phosphene Dream, the Black Angels have honed what was previously unrelenting sludginess into jagged points. Listening to it is the sonic equivalent of being smacked across the face with a broken whiskey bottle. Simply put, it's a more listenable (if still staggeringly harsh) entry into the psych-rock pantheon than most. There are forays into almost White Stripesian garage rock at turns, and the overall sound is a bit cleaner — read: You can pick out the individual instruments fairly easily — but don't be fooled. The crushing, foreboding darkness and general malcontentedness omnipresent in the Black Angels' work is still at the forefront; it's amazing, really, that the Angels are still so pissed off. In the end, though, it's our gain that they refuse to just be okay with it (whatever "it" might be), and continue to howl at the top of their lungs, maybe just to feel something, anything. Bring your earplugs, and maybe your antidepressants.
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