Conceived in what has become the increasingly fertile environment of the Antwerp underground, the self-titled first album from Angels Die Hard has finally been delivered. Born of a sphere of musical influences dating from 1970 and one which finally spun completely off its axis some five years later, the record’s gestation then saw it spiralling way up into the cosmos from whence it finally fell back down to earth only last month.
All of Angels Die Hard’s vital signs point to it being of, and from another time. The trio of Thomas Noppe, Alex Van Herk and Rob Eelen took their collective name, presumably, from the bikers’ revenge movie starring Doctor Who-in-waiting Tom Baker and legendary 70’s action hero William Smith. Then there is the album’s front cover, a contact sheet cutting swept up off the Electric Ladyland darkroom floor. And not forgetting the music, of course.
With its relentless Apache-beat and ostinato guitar, ‘Blue Mamba’ sets the scene, erecting a huge sonic suspension bridge between the Road to Zanzibar and the autobahns surrounding Düsseldorf. ‘Angel Ride’ continues that journey, a distorted funky guitar kicking over the fuzzy traces of the motorik rhythm of the album’s default factory settings. And the clarion call of ‘Unga Dunga’ is possibly what ‘Donald Where’s Your Troosers’ would sound like if Andy Stewart was airbrushed right out of the White Heather Club history and the instrumentation left in the studio was then processed through some magnificent psychedelic space-rock machine. If the Jacobites had had ‘Unga Dunga’ skirling in their ears as they stood to face those loyalist troops, the Battle of Culloden would surely never have been lost.
‘Angels Across The Pacific’ initially forages much closer to home as it lifts the Bromley Sound of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ ‘Cities In Dust’ for its central motif. But the album’s stunning centrefold and complete stand out track is ‘Frühstückstelle’, which loosely translated probably means when the melodica meets Neu! in the modern dance. Clocking in at just over nine minutes long, ‘Frühstückstelle’ is the new ‘Hallogallo’ for this and any other millennium. A throbbing swathe of hypnotic krautrock, its metronomic beat leads you gently by the hand and down the road to absolutely nowhere in particular. But that does not matter one jot because just like the album itself, it is a trip well worth taking.
Angels Die Hard was released through Heavenhotel and Jezus Factory Records on 17th January 2014