The story behind Angels Die Hard is that the three core members were formed from a chance encounter which led to them “playing all night on found instruments in an abandoned snake pit”. The more prosaic truth seems to be that the three key participants are members of Belgium rockers Strumpets and this is their instrumental spin-off project. No matter, there are enough maddening noises here which makes their backstory seem pretty convincing.
‘A Blue Mamba’ begins this frenetic experience with a stew of jungle sounds (marimba, congas and bone-chilling murmuring) and a couple of quiet moments set aside for some pastorally-flavoured flute melodies. It’s an unusual and weirdly attractive start and the mixture is even more compelling on ‘Angel Ride’ where the rhythms and squalling guitars serve up a mighty, intoxicating brew. Inspired by a fine post-punk arrangement (not unlike 23 Skidoo) and theremin exploitation, ‘A Walk In The Black Forest’ is shot through with anger and intensity and is another highlight on a dangerously inventive first half.
In a somewhat less stirring second half, ‘Fruhstuckstelle’ settles into a tidy Krautrock groove but nine minutes of it seems a bit much. However, ‘Angels Across The Pacific’ and ‘Tropical Hibernation’ recovers some of the tight, controlled aggression so prevalent on the first four tracks.
In some ways, ‘Angels Die Hard’ sounds like an extended jam session with all members playing their instruments with freedom and wild abandon. Yet there’s always strong musicianship in evidence and the dark, mysterious moods they evoke are most reminiscent of the forgotten Soul Jazz act, Sand.
dEUS, Sand, Strumpets, 23 Skidoo