Brooklyn’s O’Death managed to gain some attention a few years ago thanks to its chaotic, stomping live shows that mixed the energy of punk with the emotion and instrumentation of bluegrass. After a year-long medical hiatus, the band returns with Outside, an album that shows the group putting much more effort into melody and song construction but holding onto the same energy and dark mood as before.
O’Death’s dark blues sound easily stands out from its folksy, bluegrass peers. If Tom Waits and Jack White teamed up to ghostwrite and produce Mumford And Sons’ next album, this is what the result would be. When combined, Gabe Darling’s banjo playing and Robert Pycior’s violin lines create truly hellish rhythms, sometimes almost feeling like metal riffs. The real instrumental standout is stomping, junkyard percussion from David Rogers-Berry. Typical drum noises are avoided and substituted by what sounds like slapping a piece of sheet metal or screen or dropping a bag full of chains from high up, down onto the floor in an echoing cinder block room. The end result is subtle enough not to be too jarring but stands out enough to change the mood of even an upbeat song like “Pushing Out” from lighthearted to a tainted march.
Greg Jamie’s vocal melodies allot a wicked or sinister vibe, but his lyrics are what add hooks to the dark and twisted songs the others are playing behind him. It’s a perfect union that will appeal both to the folk music fan searching for melody and harmony while also roping in hard rock fans with its hard-hitting rhythms and raucous amounts of energy.