Murder by Death – In Bocca Al Lupo Review

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The Inside Pulse:

Adam Turla – Vocals, Guitars
Sarah Balliet – Cello, Keys
Alex Schrodt – Percussion
Matt Armstrong – Bass

Murder by Death having refined their sound with several years of touring and recording, returned in May 2006 with In Bocca Al Lupo, a haunting and powerful LP littered with solid songs about the sins of many and the redemption of few. While others within the industry are struggling to string together enough songs for a passable record, Murder by Death weave contrasting styles into a cohesive concept album that serves as a reminder why so many are obsessed with the Bloomington, Indiana quartet. Featuring songs that conjure images of saloons and unpaved stretches in American folklore, In Bocca Al Lupo‘s 12 songs focus on redemption and justice; the lies people tell, not only to themselves but to their maker are examined and explained in length. The title itself is an Italian phrase (“into the wolf’s mouth”) that is equivalent to “break a leg,” but Murder by Death have launched headlong into the mouth of said wolf and plan to destroy it from the inside with this spirited release and subsequent tour.

Positives: “Boy Decide,” “Shiola,” “One More Notch,” “Brother,” and “Sometimes The Line Walks You” are all phenomenal songs that could have been deftly crafted by Johnny Cash or Leonard Cohen. MbD have taken major steps forward in terms of production and composition as the rhythm section has a much fuller feel than on previous albums. A great number of chances were taken and, not surprising for MbD fans, they all work. “The Big Sleep,” a song directed to the family of the accused illustrates the sensitivity and time that Turla and the band put into each and every second of a track. The effort put forth by the band on In Bocca Al Lupo, eclipses their last release Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?, a near perfect album in it’s own right.

Negatives: There isn’t anything to complain about with this release, save for the obvious choice by new fans; one number that a first time listener might have a hard time falling in love with: the sea shanty “Dead Men and Sinners.” This piece stays true to the idea that Murder by Death work incredibly hard with the concepts presented on their albums and by telling the story of a cursed boat and its crew, they show their commitment to making music that they love and appreciate.

Cross-breed: Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave and Whiskeytown playing in an old Western saloon.

Reason to buy: Just over a year ago, I wrote that MbD would never make it to MTV, and that I was sure that was the music channel’s loss. I am proud to admit that I was wrong; Murder by Death not only has made it onto the network’s radar, they were featured as their band of the day in July. In Bocca Al Lupo is a phenomenal album full of roaring bass and powerful lyrics. A “can’t miss” album for both fans and newcomers alike.

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