Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
By Erin Wolf
Billy Graham, hang up your boxing gloves, Nick Cave is the new Mr. Fire and Brimstone. The latest addition to the Bad Seeds’ library, the double-disc Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, is a heavy-hitter, changing things up by waving adieu to guitarist Blixa Bargeld and welcoming organist James Johnston of Gallon Drunk. The Seeds, along with Nick Launay, also took it upon themselves to produce and record, lending a rawness and fervor absent in last year’s Nocturama.
The double-disc emerged from ample material, and the final tracks fall under two umbrellas: Abattoir Blues whips up hell-raising, heaven-yearning songs with the driving force of an instrumental hurricane, while the soft, lyrical poetry of The Lyre of Orpheus seems gothic and even odd in its contrasting choice of lyrics and sweetness.
Abattoir Blues comes out stinging with dire gospel proclamations: “Everything’s dissolving babe / according to plan / the sky is on fire / the dead are heaped across the land / I went to bed last night and my moral code got jammed.” Chilling on its own, Cave’s message is further lyrically enforced by the backing of the London Community Gospel Choir, the overall effect of which is strange but somehow appropriate.
This may be the Seeds’ strongest album in years. Filled with conviction, raw earnestness and the creativity of an improv jazz ensemble, Abattoir Blues is a jolt of charismatic caffeine, while The Lyre of Orpheus still covers listeners with a security blanket of classic Cave.