The Wolf Swallows You Whole
After their previous album Who Will Survive and What Will be Left of Them?, the members of Murder by Death returned to college and wrote what would become their latest endeavor, In Bocca al Lupo. Listening to it is like being dropped in the middle of a dark forest with twelve tracks of devilish folklore from a concept album inspired by authors Melville, Dante, and Poe.In Bocca al Lupo holds fast to the mood set by the title, which translates loosely to â€šÃ„Ãºin the mouth of a wolf.â€šÃ„Ã¹ The organic strings of cellist and pianist Sarah Balliete take the guitars of Matt Armstorng and Adam Turla in a fantastical direction. Alex Schrodtâ€šÃ„Ã´s archaic drumbeats follow Turlaâ€šÃ„Ã´s voice, a commanding one that humbles listeners from the demanding â€šÃ„ÃºBoy Decideâ€šÃ„Ã¹ to the hauntingly melancholy â€šÃ„ÃºThe Devil Drives.â€šÃ„Ã¹ A medieval horn section in songs like â€šÃ„ÃºSometimes the Line Walks Youâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and the raspy Tom Waits-like backup vocals from producer J. Robbins in â€šÃ„ÃºDynamite Mineâ€šÃ„Ã¹ accentuate the foreboding themes of guilt and sin.
Following the path of musicians like Cursive, Murder by Death tends toward darker tones even in more soothing ballads such as â€šÃ„ÃºThe Big Sleep,â€šÃ„Ã¹ where Turla sings, â€šÃ„ÃºAt the end of the road he calls everyone home / and the fire will consume us and the chapels will fall / and the taste on striking through to the bone.â€šÃ„Ã¹ For some people, In Bocca al Lupo might be too somber or too far off musicâ€šÃ„Ã´s main road — in fact itâ€šÃ„Ã´s miles away — but Murder by Death is sure to find a home with fans of a gothic persuasion.