You would not expect this style of music when you hear that a band is named Murder By Death. Instead of being a crust or metal band, Murder By Death is an indie rock band that throws together a very vocal, Dylan-descendent style with strings and tribal drums. In fact, during the first track of “In Bocca Al Lupo” (“Boy Decide”), Murder By Death has a very Voltaire type of sound, albeit one that is not a parody / whimsical style that artists like Voltaire are known for.
When one removes the vocals from consideration, the instrumental side of Murder By Death is as impressive as one can get. The band is mature enough to create most of the atmosphere to any of the tracks on “In Bocca Al Lupo”. The vocals may be easily the most noticeable thing on the disc, but the most influential thing on the disc has to be these instrumentals. For example, it is during the Mexican dance output of “One More Notch” that the vocals (now taking on the allure of a Johnny Cash) can succeed. The rapid move from a slow to fast style by the instruments make the song into one with dizzying heights and precarious lows. “Dead Men and Sinners” changes Murder By Death’s style yet again, with repetitive style of the instruments on the track giving the song all the trappings of one sung around a table as steins are being swung around and arms are linked over shoulders.
It only takes a few seconds after “Dead Men and Sinners” for Murder By Death to move into a folk-punk instrumentation and a set of vocals that are a blend of Fred Schneider, Michael Stipe, and the aforementioned Voltaire. However odd of a combination that may seem, Murder By Death make it work and are able to chalk another success up on this disc. Murder By Death have came from a black hole in Indiana, and they come forth with a very challenging yet approachable album in their “In Bocca Al Lupo”. The tracks can make it onto the radio, but they operate on so many levels that the average fan can appreciate the track while the music fan can be in sheer bliss trying to dissect the complex mazes inserted into the music by the band. Murder By Death succeeds in this album, and “In Bocca Al Lupo” is an album that will go on the CD player perfectly during any heavy drinking session.
Top Tracks: Brother, Dead Men and Sinners
Murder By Death – In Bocca Al Lupo / 2006 EastWest / 12 Tracks / http://www.murderbydeath.com / http://www.eastwestrecords.com / Reviewed 16 July 2006