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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Murder by Death is redundant

Vagrant Records isn’t really the record label that you’d think would have artists with albums that sound more folk than pop-punk. Until now, with Murder by Death’s first release on Vagrant, “Red of Tooth and Claw.”

They’re a quartet from Illinois, and their fourth studio album listens like the reading of a screenplay. It’s not the most upbeat album I’ve ever listened to, particularly with how heavy this album has become with cello and how deep singer and guitarist Adam Turla’s voice has gotten.

“Comin’ Home,” the first song on the album, sounds reminiscent of Johnny Cash. It picks up a bit when the drums enter, but it stays relatively mellow.

The second song, “Ball and Chain,” has some weird sounding vocals. It sounds like Turla drank some milk before recording and didn’t clear his throat beforehand. The “breakdown” of the song, about two minutes in, sounds like it should have accompanied the soundtrack to “Moulin Rouge” with the way it races back and forth. The emotion that it secretes adds to the struggle that the lyric “you’ve always been my ball and chain” attempts to get across.

I’m not usually a fan of instrumental songs, probably because of a short attention span, but “Theme (for Ennio Morricone)” chilled me a little bit. The cello draws itself out throughout the track, and the drums enter in as if they were leading a military funeral procession.

“Red of Tooth and Claw” progresses as a story, with the climax and longest song on the album being the surprisingly upbeat “Spring Break 1899.”

While a lot of artists and bands get wrapped up in the “genius” of writing concept albums, it’s obvious that Murder by Death didn’t let it get to their heads. The flow of the songs is not forced-everything fits and progresses naturally.

They also did not force a storyline; the nitty-gritty of each song lies between the lines, like sexual tension, murder and excessive drinking.

Besides, how many bands do you know of that write concept albums about what life was like in 1899? I know I can’t think of another one.

Murder by Death have progressed as artists in a natural way. The songs flow naturally, the lyrics are refined and Turla’s voice has become more mature.

One can only predict they are going to continue such progression in the future, growing into an even stronger band.

I cannot say with certainty that everyone will enjoy this album-I find it easier to suggest that you give it a shot and judge for yourself. Murder by Death put together a unique album, particularly at a time when the radio is consumed by Hannah Montana and rappers’ songs about money, bitches and 40s.