Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Dark Americana Briefs, Part 4

Ever Darker

Hey, you know what this is about.

Agents of Oblivion: Agents of Oblivion (2000)
4 out of 5 stars

Truthfully speaking, it should be a crime that I've done so many of these without including anything by the great Dax Riggs (formerly of Acid Bath). Agents of Oblivion was a one-off project that stands somewhere between Riggs' former life (metal) and his current one (rock). It sounds quite a bit like Alice in Chains (see "Dead Girl"), sans the stomp, and with a stronger country aesthetic at times (see "Cosmic Dancer"). His voice is the real draw, as he is both technically and emotionally more accomplished than Layne Staley ever was. It's pretty damn dark, with a couple more lively songs (see "Slave Riot"). The only real head-scratcher is the choice of samples at the end of the record; I think they were supposed to be disturbing, but they just seem comical to me.

Wovenhand: The Threshingfloor (2010)
4 out of 5 stars

If you've read any of these articles, you already know the name David Eugene Edwards. Wovenhand is his post-16 Horsepower band, which takes the dark Americana sound he pioneered further afield, creating atmospheric soundscapes with melodies and hooks. The Threshingfloor adds a great deal of Middle Eastern influence to the American folk/country/industrial Edwards mastered over the last decade. And, it just hints at a kinship with Killing Joke ("Truth"). Like most of the Wovenhand half of his career, it is best experienced as a full album, growing ever more compelling as it draws you in. But if you must sample parts and treat them as individual songs, see the title track or "Behind Your Breath."

Crippled Black Phoenix: The Resurrectionists / Night Raider (2009)
4 out of 5 stars

I didn't plan to give out 4 stars to all three albums, but when the last one has a song called "444" then I think it works out. Crippled Black Phoenix sounds like Wovenhand collided with Pink Floyd, resulting in a musical black hole that sucks in anything that comes too close. Be it gypsy folk, Tom Waits, church hymns, or pop, they effectively blend anything into their low-key prog/post-rock. The Resurrectionists is absolutely fantastic, beginning on a trio of unstoppable excellence, while Night Raider probably isn't a go-to for anyone who's not already completely sold on these guys. I am.

For those who are less committed to engaging with this for two hours, 200 Tons of Bad Luck is sort of a mini-greatest hits / more bite-size version, featuring the catchiest and most immediate material from these two records. Think of it as the "regular version" to Resurrectionists/Night Raider's "extended edition."

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