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In Bocca al Lupo

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Album Review

There's something about the idea of the Old West — the lawlessness, the dry, dusty landscape, perhaps — that appeals to the sinner in everyone (it's no coincidence that Vegas is in the desert), something seen and reflected in John Ford movies or Ennio Morricone film scores. Maybe it's all the empty space, or maybe it's the heat that seems to make people forget about civility and resort to more carnal emotion to settle things. It's exactly these ideas that Murder by Death chose to explore in their outlaw country-inspired In Bocca al Lupo. The title, an Italian idiom for "good luck" (literally "in the mouth of the wolf," to which the enthusiastic response is "crepi," or "kill it"), is perhaps used broadly as a reference to the original language of The Divine Comedy, from which the album seems to be loosely based. It's not that the band reworks the story; rather, it's as if they use characters and ideas from it as inspiration in creating their own work. Which characters exactly, it's not quite clear, but each song has its own story of death or regret, with singer Adam Turla changing his voice to match the feel of each. And to make it even better, stronger, more provocative, everything's placed in a kind of spaghetti Western setting, with strong rolling drums, a sultry tango-esque cello, and Johnny Cash vocals that all sound simply fantastic together. You can practically hear Satan dancing between the strings and the castanets in "One More Notch," and the cold-blooded murder outlined in "Dynamite Mine," with its warning, "Son, cover your ears/Lord, how that blast will ring," is wonderfully chilling. But it's the later tracks, the ones that begin to express remorse for actions done, to progress toward possible salvation, that are even more affecting. "The Big Sleep," the only song that clearly alludes to The Divine Comedy — "The bailiff leads me back to my cell/Like the riverman ferrying me to Hell" — is both touching and ominous with its Book of Revelations trumpets, and by the time the haunting "Shiola," which toys with the idea of memory and death and on which Turla sounds unnervingly like the Man in Black, comes around, the only crime that's committed is stealing "a look." It's not complete redemption (although the album does end with the very uplifting "There's still time to start again" refrain), but there's still hope to move past transgressions and find something else, something outside of the harsh, arid climes at hand.

Customer Reviews

In the mouth of the wolf

I discovered Murder By Death through a friend when they were still called Little Joe Gould. I listened to Like the Exorcist... once and brushed it off. When I saw Who Will Be Left... come out, along with the name change, I randomly decided to listen to them both straight through. BLOWN AWAY. Neil Young, Johnny Cash, My Chemical Romance, Thursday, Cursive came to mind, but I found MbD to be unique without any degree of camp or schlock despite the concept album format. I bought this today, and, after perusing the killer art work, listened to it all while reading along. Turla's words are poetry, plain and simple, and the songs branch from loud and fist pumping ("Brother," "Sometimes the Line Walks You") to introspective and chilling ("The Devil Drives," "The Big Sleep," and "Dynamite Mine"). It's hard to pick a favorite, but it's easy to see that this musical performace relating to Dante's Inferno will touch both avid fans and curious newcomers. The musicianship stands alone, and Sarah's cello raises the hairs on my neck every time, especially on "One More Notch." Buy it, please, and support a band that is worth supporting that pushes the envelope in music today.

Third Full Album, Third Success

Murder By Death is one of those rare, great bands that, if given the chance, will easily go down in music histroy as one of talent, uniqueness and intelligence. Their new album, In Bocca Al Lupo, which translates to: In the lion's mouth, is quite the journey. The single Brother is lyrically deep, upbeat, fun while maintaining its deeper meaning and all around amazing. The drumming stands strong throughout the album only to subside when the cello blazes through and leaves you wanting to hear more. This album is not a full concept album like Who Will Survive....But more of lyrics with a terrific blend of instruments. The perfect mix between Like the Exkorcist....and Who Will Survive.....John Turla's lyrics strike wonderfully deep into the poetic side of anybody and he takes a very deep, reflective, somewhat brooding with sadness look back at a damned man's life in The Big Sleep and Shiola. Both songs are very reminescent of Johnny Cash, (If he could sing deep lyrics and play good guitar) and make you want to hear the songs, along with the album again. From telling us we need to live our lives to the stroy of a boat crew dying, to living with a horrible, drug addicted brother or our redemption in life, this album is amazing and that is an understatement. I bought this album on Tuesday when it came out and it is all I have listened to up to now. As I leave this review for those who wish to read it, I do implore you to buy this album, along with Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them? I have a review there too and if you are interested in seeing this spectacular band live, they are on tour for this new album, so go ahead and check them out.

Not for everyone, just those with ears

Ok, if you're looking for Who will survive.. part two you're going to be dissapointed. However, if you are looking for a really well made album that is unlike just about anything else out there you'll be happy as my dog with a roll of toilet paper (don't ask). Initially I didn't know exactly what to think about this album, which doesn't happen to often, so, I gave it another 10-15 listenings and became more and more enamoured with it with every listen. Take the hard hitting toe tapping "Sometimes the like walks you" and learn the words, if you don't start singing along soon enough you just don't like music. I also think I could listen to "Steam Rising" all day long. Every song just brings you into a new picture painted with more than just words. I don't want to babble for too long but it's a shame that music that is as well done as this doesn't catch on. Buy it, enjoy it, tell your friends about it. Cheers, Joel


Formed: 2001 in Bloomington, IN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Indiana-based Murder by Death first caught the attention of Thursday's Geoff Rickly while playing a gig together one night in their hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. Rickly promptly brought the band, then called Little Joe Gould, to the attention of his friend Alex Saavedra (Eyeball Records owner), and the group was signed immediately. The band comprised vocalist/guitarist Adam Turla, drummer Alex Schrodt, bassist Matt Armstrong, cellist Sarah Balliet, and pianist Vincent Edwards. They issued a 2001...
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In Bocca al Lupo, Murder By Death
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