BALAAM & THE ANGEL: The Greatest Story Ever Told: CD, Live Free or Die: CD

To my mind, there are two very distinct strains running through the east U.K. death rock/goth stuff: the edgy, arty, obsessed with the darker side of life stuff and the simpy, slick, quasi-pretty boy/girl gloom pop that pretty much ended up diluting and fucking up the former. Rare it was when a band falling in the latter camp was worth a piss and these guys are not an exception to that rule. On Greatest Story, they milk dry the gray area between The Mission and mid-period Cult, managing to sand down whatever edge those templates had in the first place. The band, who deftly execute songs that are at least well written but not in the least threatening, are hampered with a singer who has neither the range or the singular quality of an Astbury, or even a Hussey. Their attempts to follow the Cult’s lead into hard rock land, as chronicled on Live Free or Die, are not much of an improvement, either. Rumor is they’re back together. I wish ’em luck.

 –jimmy (www.cherryred.co.uk)