Self-described as “Hymns and Evensongs for lost and lonely souls” Death & the Reverend have a blending of styles which makes them a challenge to classify. In a world saturated by similarity of music, Death & the Reverend provides fresh imagery of dry, dusty desert air. I began my review with the video for the ending track on the upcoming album, “Lull”. Vocally, I hear a polyphonic combo of Johnny Cash, Nick Cave and Sully Erna. Musically it sounds like the end of a movie, the point at which the western anti-heroes celebrate a victorious heist.
My favorite song on the album, which is being released June 16th, is “Two Commandments.” It’s got a sexy, sleazy rock-and-roll-dive-bar-vibe. It’s about two women that run a saloon with two rules, as mentioned in the song. “There’s only two commandments here, Be sure to mind them well: Pay Tattooed Kate at the end of the night and don’t you fuck with Isabel.” It sounds like the sort of strip-club limerick a dirty space port mechanic would sing as the xenomorph-alien creeps in for the kill.
Another stand out track for me was “Horrid Enough” containing the lyrics: “You’re probably human, you’re horrid enough,” which made me laugh out loud. “Red” is a droning, melancholic piece. “Chaos Girl” is almost punk sounding; dissident and grinding. I’ve been in a relationship with a lady that likes firearms, so I drew a lot of enjoyment from “AK-47” a song talking about a woman’s preference in rifles and possibly going on a shooting rampage, if I’m correctly understanding implication on the news story towards the end of the song.
“Little Black Hearts” is a mellow gothic rock ballad and “Wolves” builds to a distorted, beautiful mess of howling vocals and guitars. “Swing Me Low” is probably my least favorite song on this release and it’s still enjoyable in a depressing “watching-the-world-fall-apart” kind of way. I couldn’t get over the title of “Anthem for Jiggles.” Not only does the song depart musically from the rest of the album, the name just feels like a victory song plastic surgeon’s would play at the end of a hard day.
“Lords and Ladies” quickly returns the sound of the album to it’s goth-country vibe and draws the album nicely to a close by leading into “Lull” which is kind of a sad sounding song to tie off the album but I’m sure they had their reasons for that arrangement.
All in all Death & the Reverend’s self-titled record is pretty darn solid. At no point, did I want to tear my ears off or do anything permanently destructive to my person or the surrounding environment. In some places the music wasn’t my speed but it wasn’t at all poor in quality or lacking in creativity. It sounded to me like a blending of Johnny Cash, Peter Murphy and Nick Cave. While listening to Death & the Reverend I conjured up the image in my head of being in a weird, noir speakeasy with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Billy the Kid and Andrew Lincoln (in character as Rick Grimes from Walking Dead, of course) playing a game of Texas Hold ‘Em being dealt by the ghost of Peter Steele.
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