Black Boned Angel: Verdun
Riot Season (2009)
If you’re a music nerd, like myself, there are times when a record can be too intense. In a good way. Something capable of profound effects on the psyche. I’ve had a copy of Black Boned Angel’s Verdun floating around for a while now but I’ve only managed to listen to it a handful of times because despite its beauty and awe-inspiring power, I find it totally draining. And that’s exactly why I’m going to recommend this – how many musicians are truly capable of affecting you like that?
As one extended track with three distinct movements, Verdun kicks off with plodding, cavernous drums and uber slowed down guitars. The pace is blackened and funeral like. The composition mutates into a storm of chiming guitars playing arpeggios at a snail’s pace before returning to doom laden power chords, underscored by a ghostly choir singing hymns from beyond the grave. Everything is murky and oppressive, tragic like an event you don’t really want to remember. Not exactly depressing, but definitely mournful.
In fact, mournful is a very apt description given the themes of war that run through the album (the battle of Verdun being a World War One event), though I doubt that today’s soldiers in Iraq will be replacing their Slayer records with this any time soon. Black Boned Angel, featuring Campbell Kneale of Birchville Cat Motel fame, aren’t highlighting the aggression inherent to war. This is about futility, loss and pointless destruction. Verdun closes with the sounds of a battle field; bullets whizzing by, bombs exploding, choppers thundering around over head and men screaming in the distance. Proof that the most horrific sound on earth is man itself.