The End is devastating. I mean this less in the metaphorical devastatingly heavy sense that typifies the modern drone / doom “tune low / play slow” classification — and much more so in what it means for Black Boned Angel and me. The End is truly the end. Black Boned Angel has been laid to rest.
The dissolution of the band is hard for me to put into words. Just as I was beginning to dabble in drone, Campbell Kneale & Co. formed Black Boned Angel and bore Supereclipse; I was hooked. I was late on Sunn O))), and while Khanate remains a favorite to this day, the loss of them weighed less heavily than this as I was not a fan long enough by that time to truly know how utterly crushing their loss was to the genre, but Black Boned Angel and I? We go way back.
With little ceremony, “I” comes barreling in. It is as hugely distorted and massive as any Black Boned Angel release, but there’s something else here. A cursory glance at the artwork illustrates the dichotomy at play; you either see a sunrise or a sunset. Without dissecting further, we’d all be forgiven for assuming night is approaching. This genre is notorious for its gloom, and while the mood is laid thick and bare here, there is audial evidence that dawn is coming. Intangible as it may seem during “I”, the tone of The End is different from other Black Boned Angel releases.
The entirety of this album feels a bit like the life of the band flashing before my eyes. Small fragments of music past, already so familiar, routinely creep in to show that though the band has grown in the three years since their last release, they are still the masters of their own sound. They are able to effortlessly and masterfully retrieve and evolve their history. Nowhere is this more evident than about 10 minutes in to “II” where the keyboard begins to rear its head and add weight and subtle melody to the drone, completely reminiscent of the eeriness of 2006’s Bliss and Void Inseparable. As The End progresses, the final minutes of 2009’s Verdun is evoked. Walls of drone, feedback, and choral chanting all coalesce into the noisy termination of Black Boned Angel’s life.
The revisitation of themes feels completely unforced and absolutely necessary. It is crucial to understanding where the band came from, and how it ended up in the grave it currently lies in. The exploration of new Nadja-esque territory is reined in by this, and sums up the incredible emotional and musical territory they have covered.
Understandably, musical entities come and go, and fortunately (or unfortunately) few affect people deeply. This is one of those losses for me. I was able to fully immerse in the world these kiwis had created, to be lost in the dark searching for the source of their sounds. Now the light has finally shone, but it has left me standing at a headstone. I’ll always lament The End, but I’ll never stop listening.