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Published: 2008/11/03
by Fady Khalil

Broken Hymns, Limb and Skin – O’Death


O’Death, New York’s finest confluence of all sounds oddly-paired, fires off a 14 point salvo of morosely-jubilant, punk-country conjurations at the behest of all disciples of the different. Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin meanders throughout the musical spectrum like an inebriated celebration of mohawked hill-folk, by album’s end proving what was linear has become circular, dissimilar now the same.

Bob Pycior’s fiddle, unwilling to follow its Americana pre-destiny, forcefully melds with the punk-undulations of vocalist Greg Jamie on the plaintive reflection of “Vacant Moan” and carnival-esque, spaciousness of “Mountain Shifts.” Pizzicato mourning gives way to alternating passes of tortured thrash-screams, then cautious, poetic broods, urging “hold on/ breathless air/ hold on,” on “Fire on Peshtigo.” A dark stillness pervades the early measures of “Low Tide,” the violin restlessly plucking a macabre serenade to love, but ultimately breaking into a frantic sprint towards land’s end worthy of any zealot’s dangerously heightened blood pressure.

Matched only perhaps by their aptly paired tour-mates Hoots and Hellmouth, O’Death’s ability to generate Puritanical histrionics has made their live shows the thing of legends. The third LP to their name, Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin, a studio work, comes with fervor fully intact and is sure to disturb in a pleasing way. Unusual rarely sounds so fine.

The Good: Combining dissimilar elements that instead of detracting from one another, work together to create something wholly novel. More importantly, a fusion of punk- country might finally help make square-dancing mosh-pits cool again.

The Bad: Those lacking the patience for auditory attunement to alien sounds may find this album largely inaccessible with most of the inventiveness lost to them.

The Ugly: Breaking a hymn, limb or skin is bad, but breaking hymns, limbs and skin together? That’s just uncalled for.

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