O’Death – Outside [Album Review]

by Woody on April 18, 2011

I’ve loved O’Death since I first heard their ’07 album, Head Home. Seeing them live only cemented my infatuation with them. They have a unique and dark bluegrass sound, accented by Greg Jamie’s vocals, and their frantic performances are something to behold.

O’Death’s third album, Outside, is a gauge of where that band is going in the future. In following up Head Home, O’Death remained consistent with the same formula on their sophomore album, Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin. There were slight modifications, but with such a distinct sound from a young band just building an audience, it wouldn’t have been appropriate to make any detours. In their third release, however, Outside finds the band broadening their sound and taking some chances.

The band also had to deal with a serious illness that was dealt to drummer David Rogers-Berry. Rogers-Berry beat Osteosarcoma, a form of cancer, and endured 10 months of chemo and a shoulder replacement. So combined with the pressure of moving their band forward, the quintet was also watching their good friend and bandmate deal with a life-threatening disease.

After Rogers-Berry’s recovery, O’Death answered the bell with a phenomenal album. At their core, they are still playing that distinctive goth-bluegrass sound, but unlike the mayhem that was the drawing card for Head Home and to a lesser degree on Broken Limbs, Hymns and Skin, Outside shows much more restraint. More careful consideration was made in crafting each individual song as opposed to capturing the energy of those crazy jams.

Jamie has never been your prototypical lead singer but his vocals are more well-rounded on this effort. The lead track, “Bugs,” shows the band’s sound as Jamie’s vocals are buoyed by a tasty banjo lick. He’s also at his best during the bridge of “Alamar.” The song is a dirge, but breaks up at around 2 minutes and Jamie sings a verse and hits all the right notes as the song gains steam.

I fall asleep and rest my bleary eyes
That’d last, it’d last me through the night
And if I wait til dawn, it will come to me
A picture of this field as I want it to be
They’re there just in flames by the sea

I don’t know where Outside ranks in terms of my favorite O’Death album, but I will say this. It is easily the most rewarding album they have done. To see a band battle adversity and alter their sound without changing their DNA is nothing short of a pleasure. Their new direction is now doubt correlated to Rogers-Berry’s fight with cancer, but it’s a welcomed change of pace. A change that will have me waiting in heightened anticipation for future releases.

I was lucky enough to catch one of their sets down in Austin and as always, they left me happy and exhausted. If you have to chance to see them, be prepared to leave tired, sweaty and completely satisfied.

O’Death – Bugs

Stream O’Death’s “Alamar”

O’Death – “Alamar” by PitchPerfectPR

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Leon April 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I am enjoying the evolution as well as the resurrection of O’Death. I cannot wait to see them in Brooklyn later this year. I hope their tour of Europe is well received. Good sounds, good people, good-God they are good.

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