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Southern gothic blues

Dax Riggs - We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love
(Fat Possum Records)
2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 17, 2007
Dax Riggs

Review by Tony Bonyata

When Houma, LA-based musician Dax Riggs palely howls, "we sing of only blood or love" on his debut album you'd better believe him. Using this as the title for his first proper solo effort, Rigg's continues down the same dark, damp corridor that his former band deadboy & the Elephantmen traversed; turning in stark Delta blues laced with punk and metal and soaked in the blood, death and despair of Southern gothic imagery.

The problem is though that, while still an interesting enough affair, We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love lacks not only some of the more implosive dynamics of his former band's We Are Night Sky album, but also standout tracks, such as "How Long The Night Was," "Blood Music" and "Stop, I'm Already Dead" from it. Fortunately, though, Riggs' deep, guttural vocal warble is still intact and possibly even stronger than before, and he also brings more than just Delta-blues and Led Zeppelin's crashing thunder to the table this time. On the opening number, "Demon Tied To A Chair In My Brain," Riggs creates a harrowing folk number before twisting it mid-song into a stomping metal monstrosity, while "Radiation Blues" and "Scarlett Of Heaven Nor Hell" incorporates the heavy blues-rock of the early '70s. The pounding mayhem that runs through "Truth in the Dark" hearkens back to his early days in the southern Louisiana sludge-metal band Acid Bath, while the earthy-blues of "Dog-Headed Whore" sounds as if Riggs may have been the co-signer on Robert Johnson's deal with the devil at the crossroads.

Surprisingly, when Riggs sings "I forgot I was alive" on the song of the same name, as well as crooning, "let me ride on the wall of death one more time" on "Wall Of Death" he injects an upbeat pop vibe - complete with partly-sunny harmonies - into the lyrical mire. And it's moments like these that prove that this apparently tortured soul might be best to step out of his dark, dank shadows and bask in the sun for awhile.

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