Verdict: Welcome to the dark side
Given Greg Dulli's penchant for brooding menace, death and demonic imagery borrowed from the Bible and the blues, this outfit might better be called The Midnight Singers.
Here - with guest Ani DiFranco duetting on the cinematic Blackbird and the Fox, and Mark Lanegan who is part of the similarly dark Gutter Twins with Dulli - these "singers" deliver a stew of moody ballads, toxic guitars and bellowing sonic-landscapes (think U2 as the demon spawn of Darth Vader) for a journey which is most often gripping for its rock-noir quality as much as the musical diversity they inject into what is a relentlessly dark ride.
Here are chalk circles around the body, the sky descending on the soaring Gunshots, and a wolf in the wings - all of which would be overkill if Dulli and pals didn't astutely mix things up with cheap Mellotron, backing vocals (the ubiquitous Joseph Arthur), strings and gear-changing dynamics which keep your attention. He also writes a good tune: the expansive, Gothic piano-ballad Last Night in Town; Get Lucky. Never Seen No Devil is silly though.
These songs dwell in the shadow-zone between life and death, and the sleeping and waking worlds (neither of which are especially pleasant) yet despite that overall theme this has an impressively cathartic quality which could find favour with both Grinderman fans and literate death metallers. A rare one.
- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz