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Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin

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Album Review

Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin isn't as sloppy or uncontained as O'Death's national debut, Head Home, which isn't a bad thing. The playing is tighter and more polished, but they haven't lost any of their manic energy, and in fact this outing is, if anything, even more energetic than Head Home. "Legs to Sin" is as frenetic as anything they've ever done, with Bob Pycior's fiddling driving the band into a frenzy. Greg Jamie's vocals are still almost incomprehensible, and just listening to the track leaves you panting for breath. "A Light That Does Not Dim" shows off the band's punkier side, a supersonic stomper with all the instruments going full-bore, driven again by Pycior's fiddling. "Ratscars" sounds like a sea shanty composed on a Jet Ski; it brings to mind the Pogues jamming with Wall of Voodoo. "Lean-To" is a frenzied babe-I-gotta-leave-you tune, an out-of-control folk-rock number with Jamie delivering a vocal from the edge of a nervous breakdown. But most of Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin is taken at a slower pace, allowing the bandmembers to show off the range of their musical skills. "Mountain Shifts" is a fractured waltz sung by the survivor of an avalanche, with funereal passages interspersed with wild Gypsy fiddling and a boozy shouted chorus. "Home" starts slow and quiet, then grows louder and more intense, full of frightening images of impending death as the singer looks for a resting place where birds won't peck out his dead eyes. "Crawl Through Snow" is the portrait of a man freezing to death — it alternates between a sparse ghostly banjo and fiddle verse and a shuddering, noisy, Gypsy-flavored frenzy. Jamie's shrieking vocals are full of despair and anger. As the album title implies, the band flirts throughout with death, darkness, and perdition, while churning out an unholy noise that might truly wake the dead. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Folk Off

If the current nu-folk scene (or whatever you call it) seems a bit straightfaced here's a wonderful alternative. Veering like a drunk driver from purvy bluegrass to beer bottle blues to the nihilism of Grey Sun (a song which may be influenced by Thomas Hardy's Jude The Obscure but don't quote me on that), it's ain't polite and it ain't hayseed dixie. Music to drink and sober up too.


Formed: 2003 in Purchase, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The boys in O'Death come from all over the Eastern Seaboard, but got together in 2003 while they were attending the State University of New York in Purchase. They use folk styles -- primarily bluegrass and old-time music -- for a foundation, but punk, grunge, swing, rock, metal, and jazz figure heavily in their arrangements. The original members were drummer David Rogers-Berry and singer/guitarist Greg Jamie. Rogers-Berry approached Jamie after he finished a solo songwriter gig and suggested forming...
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Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin, O'Death
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