More Like Blue(s) Angel - 70%
Written by DeathRiderDoom on May 27th, 2009

Black Angels – Kickdown

Hard Rock – largely a gay American relic, right? Something likely to evoke images of the soothing Boston, or the wimpy Brian Adams, perhaps Van Halen? No – not entirely, as several key proto-metal bands were proving at the time of the late 1970’s (I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned Riot so far, but you see what I’m getting at here). Anyway, for the 70’s it’s generally considered fine among those who consider anything with a tinge of iron in its blood acceptable – am I right? But this album was released in 1983 – a slightly less-acceptable year to be putting out a hard rock effort, considering you have the benefit of great hindsights like Accept, Iron Maiden, Heavy Load, Saxon and others debuts, to draw inspiration from. That is the major problem with this still good release from Black Angels from Switzerland –its date. While the Swiss are known well for their hard rock/heavy metal – in the form of Krokus; who’s every album has reached platinum sales there, it doesn’t mean all bands from there need to follow this already trodden path. Bloody Six is a band that would prove this a year later with their debut. My point is that by this stage, the band should’ve been leaning towards a harder, more aggressive sound if they wanted to have an impact – with this one very much taking a bluesy rock approach that would’ve gone down well if released in ’80 or ’79.

This one is very much a bluesy rocker, retaining some traditional rock n roll touches a la the Zeppelin or Lynyrd Skynyrd – that’s fine, but a little tired by the time it was sent out to a less than receptive audience. Read on if you like a bit of boogie laden classic rock however. The band provides good examples of the very much Deep Purle-ish sound; boogie organish keyboards backing those solid ‘thumping along’ basslines with your dirt Ted Nugent style riffery is out at the forefront. Perhaps the best example, and most catchy song, ‘Blind Like a Fool’ with its amazing hook chorus harmony “Blind like a fool…” that you can’t help but want to sing along to. This one could’ve easily gone alongside ‘Free Bird’ and other blues rock hits if it was released four years earlier. Very rockin number that’s just a victim of its date. While it’s fine for bands to play whatever the hell genre they like – and its “tough titties” if nerdy NWOBHM obsessed reviewers don’t like their sound 25 years later on some website, the fact is that Black Angels were a band with commercial ambitions, an obvious hook-heavy approach, and not to mention recording contracts with quite a substantial catalogue being the result. The blues approach might have worked well five years earlier in the commercial market, but by ’83, times had changed for the harder, Krokus realising that with their masterpiece ‘Headhunter’ being released around the same time as this one.

The track ‘Rough and Ready’ is another strong cut like the aforementioned. This one has perhaps the most balls of any available on the album, the title being a rather obvious hint. Your main chorus riff is Sabbath rip-off that anyone could pick up on, but in this format works just as well. There’s some rebellious attitude in the lyrics, which are rock anthemesque things in your typical style. This is another whiskey drinkin’ brawler which is 4 years late in my books. Very much your 70’s biker party music with it’s consistent summery pace – it’s fun but again not very original by this date. Other touches have enthusiasm, but are mainly highlighted by pieces of them, rather than exciting you on a whole. ‘Bite the Dog’ is a slower number with the same sound as those already mentioned, but has a nice speedier chorus – raw 70’s heavy metal riffs, with their simplistic crunchiness that are about equalled in volume by a very classic bass thumpery. What I cannot continue without mentioning is the erotic ‘Over Now’ a song focusing on a twenty one year old’s fixation with a thirteen (not a typo) year old girl – an excellent sleazy touch. I’ve heard as young a fifteen in Motley Crue’s lyrics, so this is a new standard – and by two years no less! The thing is that the age is reiterated constantly in the verses.

Black Angels’ second album here is an enjoyable piece of blues rock – with some definite heavy metal in the mix. However, this bands obscurity is not surprising, as they were tracing the wrong sound for the time, probably living out the rest of their shadow in the shadow of their slightly more menacing compatriots Krokus and perhaps Bloody Six. If you like the sound described here – definitely go for it – because it is enjoyable 70’s-ism, but don’t get this one expecting ‘metal’ get the Accept disc instead, as this one is not willing to acknowledge the changing music market here, or admit it’s not from the Bayou’s of Louisiana (but then again, ‘Creedence wasn’t either). If you’re after a bit of lowbrow fun, keyboard infused sounding bassy rock, in the tradition of Deep Purple – check out this disc. ‘Fate of Emotion’ (with its more melodic NWOBHMy approach) and ‘Rough and Ready’ are your hardest cuts, with some certain charm. Not a bad release, just too bluesy.