Metal is an odd thing. Take King Dude for example; not a metal bone in its twisted musical body and yet… and yet this should appeal to so many of us. I’ll leave it to the intrepid to search the musical background of this one man folk project as I’d rather this review remained fixed on the album and I came to this unfamiliar with their previous offerings.
A word steeped in religious overtones that slips around Burning Daylight like a freshly stripped skin. This is the haunted western folk offspring of Nick Cave, Chris Isaaks, Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash. It has the stripped back, arid taste of dustbowl America and the dry stink of shabby clothes walked in for too many weeks. It stares out of back roads bible belt ghost towns all hollow eyes, whisky reeking sweat and paranoid mumbling with the word of the Preacher in one hand and the rusty, blood spattered work of the Devil in the other. Usually layered and wrapped musical rags over a simple, sparse semi-acoustic guitar chord sequence and single drum rhythm, the songs range from the bizarre, freak show love songs of ‘Lorraine’ and ‘You Can Break My Heart’ the latter which threatens too break into an outsider version of ‘Hallelujah’ at first, to the sinister vocal and guitar rumblings of ‘I’m Cold’.
It begins with fire and alarm augmented organ tones like the opening titles of the film Dust Devil transplanted to John Steinbeck country. This, on the intoned words “Lord, I’m coming home…”, slides into ‘Holy Land’ where a deep drum beat and disturbing almost siren noise creates a dark, claustrophobic and demonic sound whilst heavily echoed, dry vocals whisper in your ear and a rattlesnake slithers on by. It’s a place you don’t want to be but you can’t move from its apocalyptic beauty.
‘Barbara Anne’, by contrast is a simple voice and guitar song, a love song bent out of shape and into shadow by a hard edged voice promising violence, to put a whole town in the ground for love. The song of someone so lost inside a dark kind of thing that the rest of the world is stripped back like the sounds. ‘Vision In Black’ walks a similar line of obsession but wearing a thick, warm religious coat and jangling guitar sounds. ‘Jesus In The Courtyard’ takes a gorgeous blues sound that The Kills threw away after their first album and drowns it in Gothic Americana, the place where Jesus and Satan blend into a single blackness that engulfs you. ‘I Know Your Mine’ is a sweat soaked minute of almost rockabilly tinged insanity and the sublime ‘My Mother Was The Moon’ with breathless female lead vocals is a lullaby for the truly lost.
‘Lorraine’ and ‘You Can Break My Heart’ for all their eye popping, twitching wrongness do break up the atmosphere a touch but the Revivalist closer ‘Lord, I’m Coming Home’ has enough of the wrongness of the first eight songs to bring it back.
Twisted, black, Devil soaked insanity from someone whose mind had truly skipped the tracks and headed deep into the Depression era mythology mumbling, shuffling and dancing like the unkempt, unwashed prophet he is. Intense, wrong and magnificent.