Review of Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin Album by O'Death

Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin album review from O'Death.

O'Death Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin Album

O'Death might come over like they're all called Zeke, spend their spare time distilling moonshine and have car stickers which proudly say 'My other guitar's a fiddle', but the quintet actually formed in New York in 2003 - only chain wielding drummer David Roger-Berry (Originally From South Carolina) could legitimately be described as red of neck.

Named after a centuries-old backwoods lament, the band have built their reputation based on the intensity of their live work, which is best described as part explosive hoe-down, part wake. On record they conjure up a raucous noise from down-home instruments like the banjo and Ukelele, the plucked intro to opener Lowtide adds a degree of minor key tension before bounding off into a helter skelter gingham-tinged thrash. It's a sound which can get more complicated, with the lurching waltz of Mountain Shifts providing a counterpoint to the sweaty amphetamine bluegrass of Fire On Peshtigo and Legs to Sin, but mostly it's a wild and jagged waggon ride.

Singer Greg Jamie's voice can also take some getting used to, sounding a little like Michael Stipe being strangled by Fred Schneider, but in fact it's the edgy weirdness it brings that lends the tempo-hopping repetoire a unique quality, especially during the jerky standouts On an Aching Sea and the vaguely conventional Crawl Through Snow.

Not that mixing the vibrancy of punk with what might tenuously be described as roots music is a new thing - The Pogues 'Rum, Sodomy and The Lash' was the template. But O'Death go closer than most to reinventing the vibrant, unsophisticated sound of depression-era America and injecting rude new life into it. For mum this year though I'd stick with Only Men Aloud.

Andy Peterson

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