ANGELS OF LIBERTY
Pinnacle of the Draco
Probably, this is one of the most eagerly awaited releases of the last two years: "Pinnacle Of The Draco", the awesome debut CD by Angels of Liberty. The British duo decided to include some selected stuff from their previous short-length works and a handful of brand new songs, increasing the tracklist to 16 (yes, you've read right). Voe and Scarlett met in early 2011 at Whitby (vampiric serendipity I guess) and began to compose their songs in a dusty and decadent attic somwhere in North East England. Angels of Liberty's sound draws its influences from UK trad-goth eighties and early 90's bands (especially Nosferatu and Suspiria among others), while his lyrical inspiration comes from the mixture of personal experiences, dark mythology, and their affiliation to the alternative political philosophy and conspiracy theory.
They're able to blend skillfully two seemingly opposite styles: electronic and rock. Indeed, Angels of Liberty was formed as a band of synth/electro but also imbued with the traditional genre spirit of legends such as Sisters (when they don't live from Mercy) and Bauhaus. Since the band's foundation, they have wanted to interpret the Goth pillars under their own criteria, keeping the dramatic tension, the dark atmosphere and the theatrical flares, but also giving importance to the catchy hooks.
The album contains a selection of tracks consisting of "Monster in Me" and "Blood Thief", extracted from his debut EP "Monster in Me" (2011), "Black Madonna", Mars & Minerva and Weaving Spiders Come Not Here, from their acclaimed "Black Madonna" EP (2011), and the single they've released this year, "Complicated". From now on I will focus on the new material included in "Pinnacle of the Draco".
"Dance of Death" splits into two parts that surround the repertoire as a thematic parenthesis. The first one is an instrumental ouverture which provides the sound keys to understand the Angels of Liberty's imaginary. The second part, is the complete version and shows a complex synthetic mixture of ancient string instruments and baritone's chorus on the surface, driven by a Numan's retro-futuristic hard core. This is one of the crowning moments, in my humble opinion. "Eat the Sun", is a vibrant tune with eighties inspired and charming dynamics that bring to mind mythical soundscapes from The Danse Society. All melodic lines running with a frenzied pace but also combined with a cunning sense, flowing under the Echo Von Hammer's (their ineffable drum machine) relentless beat strikes, slithering through processed zithers and babylonian female choirs. The hypnotic "Starsailor" is, as its name suggests, a cosmonautic ode full of symbolism where the old pirate Voe sings an old tune over and over again, while handling the rudder of an industrial boat. Ghostly violin lines make the counterpoint until all fades out with those words floating... "We are the last...". The dreamy ambiance vanishes with the first notes of "Talk about nothing". This track is such an acerbic social critic in spite of its accessible format (which is a complete irony in itself). This was the first song extracted by the creators in advance of this album. With "Dead Tormented" the drama increases again, even though the colourful keyboard patterns and the constant processed clapping. The gloomy, yet captivating, synth melody which sounds unalterable backwords and the theatrical vocals by Saint Claire, weave the lament, leaning on lost abbey matins samples, creepy declamations and undead's laughters. The next one is the key issue to understand the concept of this record: "Kukulkan". In fact, "Pinnacle of the Draco" is literally present in the chorus. The track is such an invocation of the primordial reptilian gods, worshiped by the ancient civilizations (Kukulkan is a Mayan pyramid that was built to pay tribute to the feathered serpent god). As a kind of ritual, the sound references to ancestral cultures are constant, specially in the keyboard passages and the liturgical singing. Also a menacing rattlesnake (which makes its worrying appearence from time to time in other songs too) builds up this idea. Then comes one of my favorite songs in the album. An apocalyptic western chord introduces "Man of Sin" which is a brooding ballad, with apocalyptic western hints. At the end, It fades out among agonizing piano notes. "Girl under the water" is the more ethereal track in this repertoire. Lovely, but also dramatic keyboard melodies, surround the solemn vocal core as in a forgotten ballroom dance spiral, with harpsichords and bells adding a spooky Victorian tale touch. Rod Hanna (Return to Khafji) and Marc McCourt (Snakedance) have collaborated with Angels of Liberty in this brilliant song. Also it's featured another version of this track, touched by the hand of Kitty Lectro (who also has remixed their classic "Monster in Me") that seems like an obscure instrumental phantasmagoria of the original. Traditional and revolutionary at the same time, this album is already a classic of our goth times.
Review by Billyphobia