Dark, scary perspectives on love
Murder By Death has been an album-centric band since their 2003 sophomore release. With certain records, they’ve written each song as a chapter in a narrative whole; on others, separate songs are linked by a singular theme. On “Big Dark Love,” the Indiana quintet tackles various perspectives on the concept of love. Love may be a many-splendored thing, but in the distinctive worlds the group crafts, it’s also an instigator of pain and horror. As the title promises, it is big and dark, swampy and slithery, nasty and grimy, morbid and scary; yet, at love’s nucleus, there is transcendence and beauty.
The 10 songs are largely impressionistic vignettes, glimpses into narrators’ mindsets rather than the constructed stories of the band’s past. “Dream in Red” is the best example, depicting one witnessing a lover disposing of a body and trying to pass the dreadful experience off as a dream. Strings rise up, conjuring images of a lifeless form adrift on a river, Adam Turla’s baritone sounding distant, emanating from a hidden place. Like many tracks, it ends abruptly, simulating the fleeting quality inherent to dreams.
“Big Dark Love” is a dense, subtly layered document. It may not be their best, it could be the most ambitious installment of their oeuvre.
See Murder by Death March 8 at Kings in Raleigh.