Various reviews for History & Heritage Volume I

This timely release compiles a number of tracks originally released on cassette which were issued between 1985 - 1990. In a sense each track is a historical document in its own right, chronicling an evolution of sound and attitudes. The tracks are very much of their time but that is by no means a bad thing, while there are echoes of early Death in June, Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim and Joy Division the fact evident throughout this release is that While Angels Watch not only deserve the pedigree of those bands in some cases they eclipse them! Dev has done a masterful job in enhancing each track - to the point where the intelligent songwriting and clarity of instrumentation sound fresh and vibrant. The high calibre shines through in 'Reflection of Joy' and especially the effervescent 'Shadow over Shade' to the closing majesty of 'In Heaven's Arms'. Nowhere on History and Heritage does one find a weak track; it is simply that good. What this does underline is the question why While Angels Watch never received the true level of recognition they so obviously deserved. Here we find a bridge from the early electronic experimentation, or 'Death Disco' of the 1980's disenfranchised youth to the branching of the Neofolk genre. I found this a stunning release given the obscurity of the tracks; even though the youngest track on here is neigh on two decades old this album is, in itself, an excellent place for the curious to begin and the familiar to immerse. The dark mirror of While Angels Watch remains unbroken. 'History and Heritage I' proves why.

Tony Dickie for
COMPULSION ONLINE


The
German Eis & Licht adds another chapter to its series "Dokument", a catalogue - included in their general releases - which includes only rare material, recovered and remastered. This time it is the British, While Angels Watch, whose formation was in the'80s, surely just the right space in recent times to interest the French Cynfeirdd label. However it is with Eis & Licht they resume, with selections from the first three tapes issued between 1986 and 1990 ("Reflection Of Joy", "Behind The Mists" and "Falling In Love"), providing a compilation that opens a hole in the past and makes accessible songs that now seemed lost forever. Out of a total of twelve tracks seven are extracted from the first, marked by a vein decidedly new-wave: weeping guitars and dark and dilated bass notes form the backdrop to a voice similar sometimes to Nick Cave, sometimes to Ian Curtis. While "Curse The Crown Of Thorns" indicates (although with a rhythm section) the future development of the band, here they are clearly related (even by appearance) to the early Death In June. The next three tracks taken from "Behind The Mists" show the neofolk side of While Angels Watch, with minimal and intense ballads that have nothing to envy from the most recent projects: in particular "Solitary" anticipates as many as seven years "Rose Clouds Of Holocaust" and" The Axle", with a classic text of Crowley, an exhibition of energy. The two concluding pieces return to the rhythmic wave with a sound more accessible, but still pleasant. The only limitations of this excellent work can be found in the lyrics which are sometimes trivial or too sweet-voiced and that still much of the back catalogue remains 'in confinement', although the words "Volume I" from the title leaves the hope that Eis & Licht concludes this valuable work of recovery. True to their principles this CD is presented in a superb digipak with an extensive information booklet attached. At the end of the CD you will rise spontaneously to ask why the beginnings of this band are only now been rediscovered, given that among the pieces of "History & Heritage Vol I" are some very worthy individual songs, in addition to an inspired soundthat manages to involve both fans of the 80s and the lovers of obscure folk. Certainly, this band is able to show its value after a large expanse of time: this merits honour!

Michele Viali for DARKROOM MAGAZINE


WHILE
Angels Watch is Dev's one-man project from South-East London and I previously had the pleasure of dissecting his 'Dark Age' (2002) and 'Still the Star Shines' (2004) albums for the Synthesis website, so what a treat it was for me to receive a review copy of this latest release. The aforementioned offerings appeared on the French label, Cynfeirdd, but this one has made a step up and appears on one of Germany's larger neofolk labels. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Dev will know that apart from having a fantastic voice, he's also a great guy with a colourful past. In the early 1980s Dev lived in an Anarchist squat and became familiar with some of the key players in the underground Punk and Industrial music scenes that were around at the time. In fact the songs on this album were written and recorded between 1985 and 1990 and first distributed on three cassettes: 'Reflection of Joy' (1986), 'Behind the Mists' (1988) and 'Falling in Love' (1990). So what you have here, then, is a little time-capsule stretching back over twenty years and the CD insert even contains a couple of black and white photographs taken by Chris Knowles during the very period in question. The rest of the booklet is adorned with Dev's own chthonic images of subterranean dripstone where stalactites blend with stalagmites and form eerie skeletal towers, whilst underground rock seams are infused with a disturbing interplay of colour and form that seems to resemble the moist corridors of various human orifices. The CD contains twelve tracks, runs to 33 minutes and is limited to a run of just 525 copies. The first song on the album, 'Reflection of Joy', makes it clear from the very begining that we are entering a lost age and it burns with raw energy and passion as Dev's charismatic tones sweep through the lively drumbeats and engineered feedback. You'd be forgiven for imagining that Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook from Joy Division lent WAW a helping hand, but the song is far from derivative and has a unique and accessible 80s sound. The lyrics appear to suit the album perfectly, too, with Dev admitting with some nostalgia that here lies a 'monument for which I grieve' and which represents 'the ash of times that were once fire'. It's an ode to the spirit of revival; the testimony of a well spent youth. 'Shadow Over Shade' has more of a beat to it, although the jangling guitar is still there in the background. It's a very poppy tune, actually, but later on a few heavy riffs emerge during the guitar solo and the music assumes a temporary Rock feel until the whole thing returns to origins. I could imagine 'Curse the Crown of Thorns' being performed by Ostara, it's prophetic sentiments about civilisational decay and approaching Ragnarok perfectly matching Dev's powerful vocals. Absolutely brilliant. 'The Isle of Glass' also has a slight Wodenist dimension, but here we get the strong impression that action must take priority over thought: 'There are no more maps, no more philosophies / Just a calling that lures, a rattle of keys.' A warrior is searching for direction, tired of books and struggling to find his place in the greater scheme of things. 'Angel', meanwhile, is a great song, but far too short. It tells of loss, memory and a rejection of the material world; its catchy tribal drums, rumbling bass and strummed guitar amounting to little more than one minute. The ambient keyboards at the beginning of 'A Gentle Death' are more soothing in tone and it's a curious, almost inoffensively apologetic song about slowly falling out of love. The lyrics are brutally honest, featuring expressions like 'No one's to blame I just hate you tonight' and 'If only I could find something new in your face.' The next track, 'Kill', is a fleeting murder ballad in which a determined stalker is waiting to pounce and exact some form of vengeance on an unsuspecting victim. The music is fast and furious, its squealing feedback building up slowly and eventually accumulating in a rampaging cacophony before ending sweetly with a few plucked guitar strings and a final rolling of the drums. 'Solitary', on the other hand, is classic neofolk. Unremitting guitar chords and chiming bells are delivered in the style of early Death In June, with the lyrics used to convey an irrevocable descent into loneliness, isolation and, ultimately, oblivion. The atmosphere of misery and desperation continues into 'A Little Death', where the words hint at a sterile relationship that has run its inevitable course and all the frustration that goes with it: 'Show me I'm alive / Discover me again … There is no escape for energy / So we fuck to feel alive.' The first half of the song is slower, like a nursery rhyme, but it erupts at the start of the second verse and fittingly echoes the anger and impatience in the lyrics. 'The Axle' was written by Aleister Crowley and this is the second time that Dev has set the words of the Great Beast 666 to music, the first occasion being the stunning 'Walpurgis-Night' which appears on the 'Liber Al Vel Legis' (2005) compilation. As the music returns to the characteristic neofolk style, Dev croons, almost tongue-in-cheek, about the myth of the Judaeo-Christian god and the indomitable march of both nature and super nature. Again, it's far too short for my liking, but that's obviously meant to be taken as a compliment. Compared to the other tracks on this album, 'In the Wind' - a catchy ditty, if ever there was - is extremely optimistic and thumbs its nose at a former life in which creativity and adventure, perhaps, were cruelly denied. The vocals are great here and it's my favourite track on the album. Finally, 'In Heaven's Arms' seems to contradict the previous song with its yearning for love, but it's very well written and shows just what Dev is capable of: 'Around the tree of life we had sown / Our spear of destiny never thrown.' Here, a semi-imaginary female image offers a new life, but there is a price to be paid: 'Memories fading like spells broken by your charms / Falling in love again and she's in heaven's arms.' Musically, this is superb and as one of WAW's later songs from those formative years the technical development between this and the previous tracks on the album is there for all to hear and it's no surprise to see why Dev has built upon that trend even further with his more recent efforts. So, to conclude, this retrospective exploration of Dev's early song-writing abilities is an essential part of the WAW catalogue and there will be many people who, like me, are really grateful that some of it has seen the light of day. Roll on Part Two!

Troy Southgate for SYNTHESIS


Heh
, how awkward. When WHILE ANGELS WATCH released "Still the Star Shines" back in 2004, I remember how exalted I was over the "fact" that a debuting band could sound so experienced. That was of course silly, because then I learned that WHILE ANGELS WATCH has been around since the middle 80's, making them one of the absolute first bands to try out the industrial folk genre. At that time, in the 80's, WHILE ANGELS WATCH wasn't very active, though some tapes were recorded and on this wonderful disc we get a good taste of how they sounded back then. Dev, who fronted the band back then (and is the only permanent member left today) came from a new wave / post-punk background, and from various bands, most notably FLOWERS IN THE DUSTBIN where he played the guitar. This sound reflected heavy in his earliest WHILE ANGELS WATCH material, the "Reflections of Joy" tape from 1986 (when I was still in diapers), from which 50% of the material on "History & Heritage" is taken from. Pretty ambivalent songs, with somewhat cheerful melodies and dark lyrics seem to dominate that tape. Pretty rough overall though but danceable and just perfect in time. Imagine a bit of JOY DIVISION and a bit of TALKING HEADS and a bit of NEW ORDER, somewhere along that road I'd say. The title song "Reflections of Joy", the following "Shadow Over Shade" and "A Gentle Death" are three catchy examples that prove this band could have been something big if they only wanted. A current of industrial flows through these songs that becomes clearer and clearer for every track. When we reach the songs taken from the next tape "Behind the Mists" (1988) we are dealing with a fulfilled industrial / dark folk act, very much in the vein of early SOL INVICTUS, DEATH IN JUNE, and FIRE + ICE, where low-key guitar strumming and industrial sounds dominate the picture and this part of the disc offers some really, really stunning moments, like the short and bitter "The Little Death" that is pretty much an intro bubbling with hate and an angry folk explosion that leads us into "The Axle", another one that could really compete with the acts I mentioned five lines above here. The lyrics to this one are adapted from the works of Aliester Crowley and fits just so fine to the music. The lyrics overall, by the way, are extremely well worked and can just as well be read as poems without the music. You'll find them in the booklet. Two last two tracks are from the 1990 tape "Falling in Love" and aren't quite as dark as the previous ones. "In the Wind" is romantic sounding and very nice, somewhat a mix of industrial and new wave. The last track is one of the few moments on "History & Heritage" that don't appeal to me but I can't really say why. Something with the melody. Still, it's just as great fun to hear it, just like the rest of the tracks. It's great fun to hear how time sculptured a band from one sound to another, and it's great fun to hear that Dev's voice sounded pretty much the same, 20 something years ago, as it sounds today. And it's great fun to see how much work WHILE ANGELS WATCH and the label Eis & Licht put down in making of this release. I will play this one for months, and I will recommend it to fans of dark folk and post-punk as well.

Markus Eriksson for THE SHADOWS COMMENCE


In
a very short space of time have seen the release of early recordings from two groups now associated with neofolk, however, with 'punk-new-wave' leanings. I am talking here about the excellent "Truffles Of Love" by Naevus and "History & Heritage" from WHILE ANGELS WATCH which I intend to discuss at this time. Published by Eis & Licht the CD includes material from three cassettes issued in the years 1986-1990: "Reflection of Joy", "Behind the Mists" and "Falling in Love." After opening the booklet we see two young men in white shirts, black ties and runes on collars suggesting an association with Death In June, Dev has also admitted a fascination with Douglas P's project in the past. Musically it is easy to note some similarities... but the more I hear this I am reminded of Joy Division or its post Curtis incarnation, New Order, especially the songs that are infected with electronics. Further on even a little bit of The Smiths; but you can not hide the mood and character that looms over the whole of this already "incorrect" aura that marked apart other bands such as Death in June, Sixth Comm or Strength Through Joy.The actual music is simple but catchy melodies, simple rhythm and distinctive, sometimes slightly awkward singing from Dev, although, then, you could not hide any shortcomings with the technology available now. I mentioned at the beginning "Truffles of Love"… the  Naevus record is more effective in terms of a purely artistic weapon than "History & Heritage", but this is a useful CD to place the production of While Angels Watch in its historical context, and to see, or rather hear, how it all took shape.

Stark for APOSTAZJA



Firstly
a new WHILE ANGELS WATCH album would be desirable as has previously been announced. But here is a retrospective from the early years of the London based combo, now already more than 20 years old. In the year 2000 they re-activated with a tape then 2002 with the CD "Dark Age" and the subsequent "Still the star shines" MCD (2004). But there were at least three tape releases in the 80s and at the beginning of the nineties, now at least partially revived. The focus here is "Reflection of joy" from the year 1986, with six titles represented, while four tracks from "Behind the mists" (1988) and two from "Falling in love". The pieces are all digitally re-mastered, and leave their post-punk / Wave movement roots for the beginnings of the British (apocalyptic) Folk era. Singer, Dev, also had a short-term participation with SIXTH COMM the project by Patrick Leagas, Ian Read has also assisted WHILE ANGELS WATCH, serving as links to acts like the former DIJ and SOL INVICTUS, in this context it is a musical footnote of worth. Nevertheless the stylistic direction of WAW was not yet conclusive. While songs such as "Reflection of joy" or "Shadow over shade" are rather rocky-wave offerings, "Curse the crown of thorns" and "Solitary" are already more folky. A constant, however, is the variable guitar playing, which, whether acoustic or electric, is very rhythmic and forceful. The organic Drums are in a sometimes-dreamy rather melancholy mood also provide a driving component, which all sit quite well with the idiosyncratic, sometimes harsh vocal harmony. In contrast, a piece like "In the wind" is honey with its almost pop piano melody. In summary, you can call "History & Heritage Vol 1" a beautiful historical gem musikgeschichtliches, not least because of the good, authentic music which does not sound stale and also the 16-page booklet with all the lyrics texts and some old photos.

Gerrit [pk] for  TERRORVERLAG



Defying
the boundaries of genre and earthly chord progressions, While Angels Watch's History & Heritage Vol. 1 opens up myriads of directions to take from the more conventional neofolk tradition. One could think that using a more rock oriented instrumentation and a more complex set of melodies would, in a way, crush the characteristic mood and imagery found in most neofolk albums. That would not apply to this album, whose experimentation, rather than choking all the beautiful aspects of its genre, takes them to a superior level of intelligence and majesty. As I've said, this album takes in more elements of rock music than most neofolk releases. One part of "Shadow over Shade" actually sounds like a softer version of an AC/DC riff. The drums are generally more active (in "In Heavens Arms", notably), and the electric bass guitar can be heard in all tracks, yielding a more structured low end. On the high end, there actually are guitar solos on some tracks, played on a softly overdriven guitar.One may think it'd be ridiculous, but it is actually quite refined and coherent, and those give even more emotion to the melodies. The vocals are hazy, and the lyrics are thoughtful, enough to satisfy the poetry fans. I guess poetry is what this album is.Poetry converted to music, where letters become notes, and where words become harmonies, and where all of those fuse into pure essences of feeling and touch. The different layers and depths of notes and emotion can be seen dancing together around a big, happy yet melancholic, bonfire of life. While Angels Watch is like a little Eden in the middle of a dull and hostile forest of decent yet weary Current 93-influenced neofolk, and its Vol. 1 will please your musical taste buds whether you're into folk music, folk rock, or even the post-punk scenes. All of that in one album! This album should be force-fed to all neofolk enthusiasts, although force won't be necessary once the addiction has taken the spirit of the listener to faraway destinations, beyond the realms of regular chord oriented music. History & Heritage Vol. 1 will take you back in time and through the meaning of life itself. Those wind-dwelling tunes are worth pure gold.

Romain Banilla for HEATHEN HARVEST


While
Angels Watch originally derived from the environment of the early British Apocalyptic folk bands in the 1980s. Frontman Dev worked with Sixth Comm and his own band published three tapes: "Reflection of Joy" (1986), "Behind the Mists" (1988) and "Falling in Love" (1990). In 2002 he returned on the French label Cynfeirdd. The album "Dark Age" (Lim 588) and the EP "Still the Star Shines" (Lim 288) showed While Angels Watch as a neoclassical oriented folk band in the style of Sol Invictus. Though not every sound is original the sonorous voice of Dev secured some attention. In interviews there appeared increasing evidence of early material, and it is thanks to  the German label Eis & Licht and a live presentation at the Wave-Gothic-Treffen-2008 that these remastered works are redeployed. The CD "History & Heritage Vol 1" is placed in a matt digipak with a comprehensive booklet of old band photos, all the lyrics and 'archaeological' artwork combined. The music here spans the years 1986 to 1990 from the arch of dark wave rock to lupenreinem Apocalyptic Folk, a mixture that you long to hear. Through to stand apart Elektrobeats, stoic rhythmic acoustic guitar, electric guitar and dronige classical arrangements. This is an exciting and varied mix, driven by Dev's already grummeliger voice, the intonation Apocalyptic, as he announces the last things. However, the strong presence of neo-classical strings on the new CDs had not arrived yet.Not all the songs are on the same level, but the pagan "Curse the Crown of Thorns" is an undisputed highlight and Anspieltip. For fans of the British old-school style of Neofolk: Above the Ruins, Sol Invictus, Fire + Ice and Death in June ("Nada" phase), this compilation is a safe tip with a very touching sense of déjà vu. 

Marcus Stiglegger for IKONEN


Based
in London the duo from While Angels Watch has been active since the glorious 80s. Defining their sound as "death disco" they released a number of tapes. Eislicht got the idea to release some of these songs (originally released on 3 tapes) on cd format. The result is quite interesting for the mix of typical neo-folk influences together with new-wave music. The shadow of the 80s hangs over these songs creating a kind of refreshing neo-folk style. It's quite ambiguous to stamp old songs in a style as being refreshing, but "History & Heritage" for sure brings some diversity to the classical neo-folk standards. So I like the new-wave mood hanging over this release and mixed with raw male vocals. While Angels Watch have also released more refined pieces since. From History & Heritage, "In Heavens Arm" is a perfect illustration of this delicacy built up with piano play. It really sounds like a genius idea to have recovered this band from dust! (ED:7)
It
is already several years since new material from WHILE ANGELS WATCH was announced, I'm therefore all the more surprised that this publication is not new material, but rather a review of earlier work. The band WHILE ANGELS WATCH has existed with interruptions since 1985, the period when the musical infection with post-punk and wave appear obvious. DEV was also temporarily a guitarist for SIXTH COMM, which is why he came into contact with the 80s burgeoning Apocalyptic Folk scene. Within this brief compilation is the sound of the early recordings of WHILE ANGELS WATCH, now in the established Document series of EIS & LICHT. The material is a selection of pieces from three cassettes, DEV - supported by various musicians - in the period from 1986 to 1990. The pieces have been technically revised,leading to an amazingly good sound, but are otherwise the original works. The musical reference to post-punk and the early Apocalyptic Folk of the 80's I have not made in vain, the pieces are precise transplants from this period. Of course you can hear from these recordings also the sound of the band in the new millennium heraushören, not least in the formative and strong vocal presence of DEV, but also in song structures such as "The Isle Of Glass'. The concentration of the twelve pieces is clearly on the first tape "Reflection Of Joy", from which is taken six songs. The title of this publication is also the opening track on "History & Heritage Vol I", and it is immediately clear to hear influences such as NEW ORDER, Wave and post-punk of the'80s and again in "Shadow Over Shade". The two pieces, that are considerably close, in my view, to the current WHILE ANGELS WATCH sound are the excellent "Curse The Crown Of Thorns" and the subsequent, already mentioned "Isle Of Glass ", although here they, along with the first two pieces, have a more conventional percussion work, but this never comes across as intrusive or inappropriate, just provides the pieces with a slightly more natural impetus. I sometimes desire a little more momentum like this from many of today's Neofolk musicians. The CD continues with the unfortunately short and fragmentary, but rousing Apocalyptic folk hit "Angel" from 1988's "Behind The Mists" tape before it becomes poppier with "A Gentle Death". "Kill" is at first a quiet acoustic mid-piece, however, more and more in line with the text the song builds up to a crashing end. "Solitary" is a result of glockenspielartigen keyboard sounds and the equally beaten acoustic guitar which makes me think of DEATH IN JUNE before a short but swinging "The Little Death" also in the best manner of WORLD SERPENT artists. Then even more touched by the melancholy, but wonderful pop song "In The Wind". The compilation finally ends with the not so incredibly strong "In Heaven's Arms". In my view, it is surprising that there are these interesting pieces of WHILE ANGELS WATCH to discover. The singing of DEV with his flair for catchy melodies, the music sits timely in the 80s when they were created and, of course, because of the period are already covered by varied bands. When comparing the music with the later, more complex works of the band, there is a greater simplicity and straightforwardness in songwriting clearly, but that is not meant to be a negative. One criticism is for me the somewhat short playing time of about 34 minutes, because obviously there is still more material, the question must be whether too any songs would have diluted the result. Overall, this is a very interesting, very impressively illustrated document, which leads me ultimately to return to the starting position… the desire for new material.

Tony F. for NONPOP webzine


After only two albums While Angels Watch have become one of the best formations in Europe, the Singer / Songwriter traditions continue lyrically and musically to strike a nerve in their audience, as much as almost any other formation. While Angels Watch were musically active before these two albums and this compilation is comprised of the earlier recordings of the British act. Here revealed are While Angels Watch post-punk and Goth-roots, the style back to bands like the Chameleons or bands of the early German Goth scene, such as Essen's 'Another Tale' spontaneously came to mind. In particular, the singing of Dev reminded me of the voice especially the melancholy in his voice is very much similar to that of the now deceased singer Frank-Peter Hermsen. "History & Heritage Vol.1" is a wonderful showcase of the band, with blood pumping and a heart full of emotions which justifies their special position in the current music scene. That label Eis und Licht is still supporting and issuing albums of this type deserves the highest recognition, because songs like "The Little Death" or "Reflection of Joy" are timeless recordings, which is not easy to achieve and it is unthinkable that they should disappear. A wonderful album from a wonderful band.



For many people their first exposure to the music of While Angels Watch, the project of London based musician Dev, began with the release of Dark Age on the French label Cynfeirdd. A fine short representation of dark folk music, aided by Matt and Jane Howden of Sieben and Ian Read of Fire + Ice. A few years later, Still The Star Shines, further enhanced their reputation in dark folk circles. Again issued on Cynfeirdd, on Still The Star Shines again featured assistance from Matt and Jane Howden. Interested listeners would have noticed from even a quick glance at the While Angels Watch discography that they had a rich history and that Dev had been active in post-punk circles stretching way back to the early eighties. Active in the squat scene of the eighties Dev performed guitar for hardy post-punk perennials Flowers In The Dustbin, and an early line-up of (what was to become) While Angels Watch featured Patrick Leagas, formerly of Death In June. A while later members of While Angels Watch assisted Patrick Leagas with the recording of the debut Six Comm album, Content With Blood, released on Eyas Media. While Angels Watch never issued any vinyl; their output was confined to three cassette releases all issued prior to 1991 in frighteningly small numbers. History and Heritage Volume 1 compiles 12 tracks from the three previously issued While Angels Watch cassettes: Reflection of Joy (1986); Behind The Mists (1988) and Falling In Love (1991). The period photographs of While Angels Watch captures a group fresh faced and attired in military uniforms. The music found on History and Heritage really picks up from the post-punk period and specifically from the influence of Death In June and Joy Division. It takes them as a springboard for While Angels Watch to develop a sound. It's a sound that crosses into punk, electronic dance, pop and into what would eventually be known as neo-folk or dark folk. The group has described the music as death disco, not in relation to the PiL song but to a sound that developed alongside the European electronic music and folk acts that were beginning to achieve prominence during the eighties. History and Heritage provided a variety of musical paths to pursue. The opening tracks 'Reflection of Joy' and 'Shadow Over Shade' provide the staple ingredients with the precise acoustic strum, the booming bass lines, jagged guitar lines, melodic keyboards and of course the rough, heavyset voice of Dev, a deep course roar that provides the loose melodies to these dark, introspective songs entwining age-old symbols with personal relationships.Opening with the line "This lands breath is stagnant, Trees stand still in the concrete fields", 'Curse The Crown of Thorns' tackles ecological awareness in the glare of soulless capitalism wrapped in pagan themes, referencing the old gods and the destruction wheel, culminating in the lines: "Let the final battle commence, With the call of a wolf and the hammer of Thor." The rolling drums and plucked guitar of 'Angel' is particularly reminiscent of early Sol Invictus, with Dev's voice powerful and soaring. Similarly, the opening spoken vocal harnessed to a booming bass and snare drum rolls may start like Sol but 'The Isle of Glass' quickly morphs into Peter Hook basslines and niggling post-punk guitar lines. The sombre sentiments of 'Solitary' embrace the atmosphere of Death In June circa But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter? with the acoustic guitars and keyboard embellishments. With its skipping tambourine lead rhythm the second part of 'The Little Death' is almost traditional folk with a tale of misguided sexual energy. 'Kill' appears to allude to the Manson murders, with its references to "Sadie, I'm hypnotised at the gate...I've found the strength to unleash my will...Sadie, Will you tell' over rolling timpani, intertwined acoustic guitar building up to a frenzy. Dev's voice is clear and defiant over fast acoustic strum and steadfast beat as he intones the rhythmic verse of 'The Axle', excerpted from the Walpurgis-Night chapter in Aleister Crowley's novel Moonchild. And while these songs call upon touchstones of industrial culture a number of the tracks display a pop like veneer hiding dark, introspectives lyric. The gentle melodic keyboard and low-key melody of 'A Gentle Death' recalls the early solo work of Julian Cope, even down to Dev's vocal as it eeks out a warm, forlorn melody teased out by soft keyboards in that love gone-awrong scenario. 'In The Wind' continues with another Cope type melody this time lead by piano, with acoustic strum, snare drum rolls and keyboard flourishes. The closing track 'In Heaven's Arms' is another sprightly acoustic track with keyboards ably assisting the acoustic guitars, that appears to snatch a few moves from New Order. And even with more than a decade between the final cassette release, Falling In Love, and the release of Dark Age you can easily pick up on the dark, graceful acoustic melodies that would be so richly augmented by classical touches on Dark Age and the subsequent mini-album Still The Star Shines. History and Heritage captures a period of transition for While Angels Watch and, as Dev writes in the liner notes, "for better or worse, this was While Agels Watch in the 1980's". History and Heritage is an illuminating listen for those familiar with their more recent output and one that will have appeal to anyone with an interest in that period, and specifically to those with an interest in any of the aforementioned groups.


Michael Cunningham for JUDAS KISS MAGAZINE