Red of Tooth and Claw

Mar 26, 2008 at 12:00 am

Indiana's Murder By Death has long drawn from the darker side of the human experience, toying with ideas of death and vengeance and regret while playing dusty, imposing music that only helps to accentuate the inherent lawlessness of lead singer Adam Turla's voice, the group's most memorable asset.

Their 2006 album, In Bocca al Lupo, took its guidance from The Divine Comedy, but Red of Tooth and Claw claims inspiration from The Odyssey. And, lyrically, this is indeed true: "Comin' Home" finds Turla singing like a crazed Odysseus, while "Fuego!" has him reciting "Baby it's been so long that even the roses' hips are turning me on" to his Penelope.

Musically, the influences, while perhaps not as mythic, are just as considerable: Nick Cave and Johnny Cash are called on in equal proportions within Turla's voice. And the band's devotion to the spaghetti Western is even more outwardly realized here, with, appropriately enough, a song called "Theme (for Ennio Morricone)." This overtness can be too much, sometimes dampening the effect of Turla's powerful baritone or the swirling guitar and cello lines. But when it's done right (the Trojan "Ash," the calmly violent " Second Opinion"), the results resonate long after the reverb has ended.

Murder by Death plays Saturday, March 30, at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave.; Detroit; 313-833-9700.

Marisa Brown writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].