So this week didn’t go as planned in terms of music. I had an album all set and I was excited to listen to it but the first listen was awful, I just couldn’t get into it. I tried and tried but couldn’t enjoy the music or even tolerate it so I switched over to an older album. Now, normally I would only do new music for this post but this is a bit different. This album is going to be the basis of a new project I’ll be working on that will hopefully be going up later this week. It’ll be my first short story for the site and it will be based off of this album, so let’s get to it.
“Red of Tooth and Claw” is an album by Murder by Death, a fantastic folk band that hits the ground running with heavy tunes. The album tells the story of a man who loses it all and refuses to let those who hurt him get away. Above all, though, the album is really intense music that is both deep and enjoyable. Each song from start to finish features haunting cello melodies, heavy bass drums that shake you to the core, and the incredible vocals of Adam Turla.
Turla’s vocals are as deep as Johnny Cash’s could be and he brings on the folk. The opening song “Comin’ Home”, which was featured in Inglorious Bastards, gives you a perfect idea of what you’re in for with the album. The guitar starts of twanging away until Turla’s vocals come barreling into the song. His voice is incredibly deep and full and works so well with the folk music that supports it. The cello in the song too does a fantastic job of supporting Turla’s voice with a sound that brings this song, and the whole album, to an entirely different level. From there you’re treated to “Ball and Chain” which is a showcase for the heavy bass drums of Murder by Death and also the ability of Turla’s vocal range. His voice dips in and out of deep haunting groans to crazed yells for his lost love. It’s a really haunting, yet oddly inspiring song.
Songs 3 and 4 on the album is quite possibly my favorite one two punch of any album as “Rum Brave” precedes “Fuego”. “Rum Brave” has a great high speed flare that helps it stand out from the darkness of the rest of the album. It’s a morbid song about a horrible man but Turla sings it strong, telling the story as the drumsticks rattle in the background. “Fuego” follows it up with a love ballad about a man who just wants to be with a woman, in the worst of ways. Turla oozes the longing and desperation that the song tries to give off and again the music backs him up in a fantastic way.
“Theme” is a melodic and instrumental song that is absolutely fantastic in terms of execution, though it does feel like it breaks up the album randomly. The next 4 songs always seem to flow together for me, not that they’re bad in any way they just seem to mold. All four songs have Turla switching from anger, to manipulative, to complete desperation and depression. It’s a great mix of vocals and melody that complement each other incredibly well.
The album wraps up in a great way with “52 Ford” telling a story of a crazed man to the drumbeat of his brain. Each beat gives the feel that you know his pain and suffering and as the cello moans on you feel as though you’re watching him act. As he goes through the motions of plotting a murder you feel as though you’re right behind him. It’s a great folk song when it can not only tell a song but make you feel like you’re a part of it as well. “Spring Break 1899” closes out the album with a sad and longing ballad about a man who has lost everything but just doesn’t care anymore. He’s given up on his revenge and instead just wants to go back to drinking and prostitutes, so that’s what he does.
Everything about “Red of Tooth and Claw” stood out to me and made it an album I listen to regularly. Haunting vocals, fantastic orchestral melodies, bass drums that dominate the background, and it all comes together to tell a great story. The album has as much going for it as a musical album as it does a story. The band has called it an epic of sorts and I tend to agree, few albums tell stories this well or clearly. Even if the music isn’t your thing give it a try for the story, it’s interesting enough that it deserves one listen for the tale.