Balaam and the Angel

  • Balaam and the Angel
  • Day and Night EP (UK Chapter 22) 1985 
  • Love Me EP (UK Chapter 22) 1985 
  • She Knows EP (UK Virgin) 1986 
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told (Virgin) 1987 
  • Live Free or Die (Virgin) 1988 
  • Days of Madness (Virgin) 1989 
  • I Took a Little EP [CD] (UK Virgin) 1989 

Despite their goth garb, Scotland’s Morris brothers — singer/bassist Mark, guitarist Jim and drummer Des — are popsters at heart, a fact which they take pains to disguise on these unremarkable albums. The Greatest Story Ever Told does have some charm, but the trio’s melodies are too often buried in feeble attempts to whip up a vague air of menace. (Balaam started as protégés of the Cult’s Ian Astbury.) Live Free or Die, produced by former Cult boardman Steve Brown, is closer to Van Halen-styled AOR metal. (The CD adds two tracks.)

Day and Night is a four-song 12-inch of pre-LP material, the title track of which wound up as one of two bonus cuts on the British Greatest Story CD. Built around a song from the first LP, She Knows is a double 7-inch with two radio session tracks of songs that appeared on the second album. The 1989 CD-3 EP (offering a one-song preview of Days of Madness) joins the titular LP track with three live cuts.

With the band now a quartet, Days of Madness continues Balaam’s descent into metal mediocrity, unironically recycling every commercial hard-rock cliché in the book, without even the mild diversion of its predecessor’s pop hooks.

[Scott Schinder]