When the BLACK ANGELS released their debut, Passover, in 2006, they made a lasting impression. This was ominous, droning rock that took the Texas psychedelia of Roky Erickson and Scotty McKay up about ten notches. Imagine an even more fuzzed-out Velvet Underground, or the Doors if they had had three guitar players (and Jim Morrison had ever shut up). The songs dealt with death and violence, and the Vietnam War was a subtext—the Angels weren’t for the squeamish, though their intensity attracted a small, fervent following in their hometown of Austin and beyond. Their 2008 follow-up, Directions to See a Ghost, was equally powerful yet didn’t manage to recruit many new fans. Now the five-piece finds itself one of the first acts signed to a revived Blue Horizon, the iconic sixties UK label that re-issued tons of American blues and launched the career of Fleetwood Mac. Sequestered in Los Angeles with heavily credentialed producer Dave Sardy (Slayer, Oasis, Marilyn Manson), the band has sharpened its sound without sacrificing its intensity. Like its predecessors, PHOSPHENE DREAM thunders like an oncoming train, but the songs are less meandering and more ambitious, with actual bridges and fat melodic bass lines that cut through the guitar din. Vocalist Alex Maas is front and center singing real melodies, you can make out the words, and there are even backing harmonies. But never fear. Despite these tweaks, the band’s trademark echo-laden sound still raises the hair on the back of your neck.