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Band: Murder by Death
Album: Red of Tooth and Claw
Label: Vagrant
Release Date: March 4th, 2008.
Rating: 9.0/10

Murder by Death are band that, pardon the pun; have always marched to the beat of a different drummer. While it’s easy to pick up on a lot of their references, namely the late Johnny Cash, it’s never a hindrance as it’s only a part of the formula that makes them work.

Past full length efforts like 2006’s “In Bocca al Lupo.” Drew concise lines that you either really liked a song, or really didn’t. But with their newest release, “Red of Tooth and Claw.” MBD provides their most cohesive album to date. With it’s clever lyrics and precise instrumentation, “Red of Tooth and Claw”, is as emotive and raw as anything they’ve ever done.

The album covers an anti-hero with no silver lining, with no redeeming qualities, however one can’t help but relate to said character on only the most of unnatural instincts, or maybe even because one is prone to cheer for the outlaw in every story. It really brings to mind a Spaghetti Western, only with a cello and drums…and really, that’s one of the best conceptual ideas for an album, ever.   According to lead singer Adam Turla, “[it’s like] “Homer’s Odyssey of revenge, only without the honorable character at the center.”

MBD have become masters of narrative, which is slowly becoming a lost art. Each one of the 11 tracks seemingly builds toward something greater, all culminating with the epic album closer, “Spring Break 1899”.

At the end of it all, this is the first great album of 2008, and the bar has been set high.

Stand out Tracks:
”Comin’ Home”, “Ball and Chain”, “Rumbrave”, “Ash”, “Spring Break 1899.” Although really, the whole album is just…awesome.

Aaron Hale (aaron@racketmag.com)