“I’ll Have You Know I’ve Come to See You Die”
A lot of bands cite The Afghan Whigs as a heavy influence on their music. Hailing from Cincinnati, the band reached popularity in the early ’90s and were signed to Seattle’s famous Sub Pop Records (during the height of the Nirvana era, no less). Despite this, The Afghan Whigs never made it too far past their cult following and underground fame. While the band came together in the mid-2000s to play a few big festivals and release a few tracks, it’s been 16 years since their last full-length release. But now, they’re ending the streak with their latest album Do to the Beast.
Only two original members remain: frontman Greg Dulli and bassist John Curley; various other guest artists fill in for the guitar and drum parts. For those fans seeking some good ole ’90s nostalgia, they may want to look elsewhere, as these gentlemen are classy and dapper and clearly have no intention of picking up where they left off 16 years ago—which is good, since now they’re all middle-aged dudes who are wiser and more experienced. However, Dulli’s knack for experimenting with different genres and sounds still exists on Do to the Beast. Without former guitarist Rick McCollum, Dulli said he felt free to do whatever he wanted.
In “Can Rova,” for instance, the song is quiet and gentle, with some light strumming amid Dulli’s soft vocals. On the contrary, opening track “Parked Outside” is gritty, dark, and much louder, with the Dulli lyrics that fans love: “If they’ve seen it all, show them something new / And put out your innocence or you’re gonna be smoke when she turns out the lights.” And “It Kills” falls somewhere in the middle, the song beginning with a piano and a soft Dulli voice, but it eventually climaxes into screams from both the guitar and the vocalist.
“Royal Cream” may be the one song to make listeners nostalgic. It’s upbeat, there’s a little fuzz to the guitar, and if MTV still played music videos, this could be in heavy rotation there—but probably not much on the radio, which is typical for The Afghan Whigs.
Dulli has always said that his influences come not just from rock but also from soul, and at SXSW’s 2013 festival, the band even shared a stage with Usher. Dulli had lots of extra material to share, and reviving his old band, with the end product being Do to the Beast, was his preferred method.