Been awhile everyone, so this will be a bit disjointed, but bear with me.
While on leave from Iraq—just putzing about with my brother, sharing a few beers and watching New York Noise (a local music program)—a video for a unknown band started to play. The band: O’Death. The album: Head Home. The song: “Down to Rest.” The intro to the song was quite simple (just a couple of chords, slightly haunting and repetitious). The vocals…. my God, how raw! The video itself… so odd an unprecedented. All in all, it was just a scant 3:42 seconds. It seemed to scratch its nails down the chalkboard of my soul. I spent the next two weeks trying to find out everything about the band and that soul-searing song. (Being a fossil with no access to the Internet, this was a Herculean task!) I was final able to track down a copy of Head Home, and spent a full month listening to that damn fine album! I still couldn’t tell you what half of the lyrics for “Down to Rest” were, but this seemingly unknown band had rekindled my interest in modern music.
I devoured Head Home and quickly fell in love with the haunting melodies, which at points gave way to discordant symphonies, stretching string instruments to unholy bounds. The vocals made me shudder with their raw intensity (“Ground Stump,” “Down to Rest,” “Adelita,” “Allie Mae Reynolds,” “Busted Up Church,” ” All the World,” “Nathaniel”). Yet still, they could touch the very core of my soul with such sincerity and sorrow as to make me weep (“Only Daughter,” “Jesus Look Down”).
As soon as I found out that O’Death had a second album, I pounced on the chance to find it. In what would have taken a modern man only a day to find on the internet, it took me four months of scrounging around in local music shops and mega-marts to find Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skins, my favorite O’death album. From the frantic opening of “Low Tide,” my interest in this band was set on fire, anew, as the same folk/metal blitzkrieg assaulted my yearning eardrums. The whole album brought the organized chaos of the first album to new heights. While the raw vocals where still there, they were refined into something more. The soul-rending instrumentals sent me into a bacchanalian frenzy. Just a small list of my favorites: “Low Tide,” “Fire on Peshtigo,” “Legs to Sin,” “MOUNTAIN SHIFTS!!!,” “A Lift That Does Not Dim,” “Angeline.” My three absolute favorite songs (which I had the luck of seeing preformed live) are: “Vacant Moan,” “Home,” and “Crawl Through Snow.”
A very good friend of mine picked up their third album! At the outset, I found it to be quite a departure from their previous work, being far more melodic and instrumental, and much lacking in the raw energy that had drawn me to them in the first place. This is not to say I don’t enjoy this album—it just leaves me wanting so much more. In short, I think that no matter what your musical inclination, you will enjoy this band. I have been passing O’death off like a virus to friends, and to friends of friends. I’ve also noticed that they have been doing the same, which makes me feel like I’m doing my part, no matter how insignificant.
I have a hard time connecting to my friends (being so out of place due to my age, tastes and general outlook on life), so when I tried to bait my friends with free tickets to an O’death show at The Bell House in Brooklyn, it was a bit of a surprise when a friend I think highly of—Joe Massella (a social animal who cannot be rivaled)—took the bait. On our misadventure to find the venue, we almost went on a walking tour of the historic Brooklyn seashore, we spent an hour killing time and sipping beers at the main bar until show time, and then an hour and a half listening to the headliners. I was quite worried Joe would hate the band, but was pleasantly surprised at how much he got into it. O’Death was bloody brilliant, and their energy quite high. All in all, it was the best show I’ve been to all year. It was all so primal and conjoined, I didn’t feel out of place in the slightest. I remember looking into the impromptu pit that started, and wistfully wishing I could participate. I bought a beer for Joe and toasted him, and he gave me a knowing smile, “So why aren’t you in the pit?” And I replied, “Well, I’m too old and broken for that, man; leave it to the young.” He laughed, “I have a feeling you’d be able to hold your own Joseph.” That meant lot to me… as did the fact that he loved the show and bought me a brand new copy of Outside that very night.
I pulled the same trick as before. (This time, not only did I snag Joe, but I also snagged the owner/operator of this website, Matt Storm. Though the GlassLands was a much smaller venue, O’death rocked just as hard. I insist that, if you like this band, you MUST see them live. I all but gave up on modern music until I heard this band, and now my faith is renewed. So give them a chance and I’m sure you’ll be surprised.
Check out the video for Down To Rest