Having teamed up with everyone from purveyor of sighs Gonjasufi, to herald of virulent hatred Justin Broadrick and of course, long-time collaborator grime legend Flowdan, the follow up to The Bug’s 2008 masterpiece London Zoo was always going to be a sink or swim affair, and the 6 year wait for a full length follow up has most definitely been worth it.
Oddly, the most evident comparison to make is to Chase and Status’s latest album, as the sound flows from genre to genre, with the ‘Angels’ side a collection of trip hoppy, fuzzy, but for the most part, melodic tracks. Not to say that The Bug has softened one ounce, however, the ‘Angels’ side goes just as hard as the ‘Devils’ half of the album, with its tripped out, sombre tone functioning perfectly alongside The Bug’s signature low end rumble. The venomously infectious, tunefully twisted low end which characterises all of Martin’s compositions runs across the entire album, working well alongside dreamy, industrialised trip-hop. ‘Ascension’, features some patent Godflesh style rhythmic components as it does Grime bangers – ‘Function’ featuring Manga being a particular highlight. ‘Fuck a Bitch’ takes Death Grips’ anarchic, dissonant, barbed guitar assault ethic, resplendent with gleefully offensive lyricism and blended seamlessly with dubby bass and production ethics, proclaiming yet another victory for the slowly increasing grime/metal hybrid which is currently ripping apart the polite conventions of the polarized genre policing of the past.
The production on the album really helps to tip the album over the edge of quality into the realm of classic, the copious amounts of distortion and audial violence on display betray a huge step forward for The Bug. Whilst still very much identifiable alongside London Zoo’s dark, bassy soundscapes, the production is darker, harder and more precise than ever before. The precision betrays a gargantuan amount of nail biting toil which has obviously gone into the every single second of the album and it shows.
Whilst some possibly over enthusiastic voices have been hyping Summer 2014 as the summer of Grime, Angels & Devils stands as a testament that something huge, involving Grime and myriad other genres is here. It’s the soundsystem culture of Britains broken present and future and it’s probably here to stay. If Angels & Devils is anything to go by, the future of music holds far more interesting and danceable things in store for us all.