With their Technicolor blood splattering and spooky organ, the Murder City Devils come off as the bastard spawn of the Stooges, the Misfits and vintage Hammer horror films, all rolled into a slickly congealed gob of easy-to-ingest rock ‘n’ roll. Born, bred, and bled in Detroit, the MCD have been steadily improving upon their tried-and-true, black-and-blue approach to garage punk, and with In Name and Blood, the band seems to be finding its niche.
The record begins with “Press Gang,” a lovely dirge that spirals downward into the depths of death, which seems to be one of the few major themes running throughout the album, while others include killing, booze, the Devil, and graveyards. Most of the tracks are mid-tempo, minor-chord rants sprinkled with the enchanting Hammond B-3 work of Leslie Hardy adding just enough kick to the kitsch. Not unlike Rocket From the Crypt at times, minus their full-on party-band aura, the MCD have absorbed some of the campy aspects of the former group’s image that made them so fun (or, some naysayers believe, led to their downfall) and could easily be fit on a double-bill with RFTC.
For the most part, the songs remain the same, which, for 37 minutes, is not terrible. The thrown-in Neil Diamond cover, “I’ll Come Running,” shows a little range for the Devils, yet not much reverence for the songwriter himself, arguably one of the greatest minds of his generation, and I’ll argue that in any bar across this great nation of ours. The record sleeve handsomely showcases what appear to be police photos documenting each band member’s bloody demise, and the CD-ROM multimedia presentation was a nice bonus discovered upon inserting the disc into my computer for some unknown reason.
All in all, there’s a time and a place (which happens to be a little spot in hell where the embers glow crimson and Beelzebub keeps his record collection, which probably also includes a copy of Nick Lowe’s The Jesus of Cool) for the Murder City Devils, barbed wire and Frankenstein bolt tattoos in check. To write this band off as a novelty act ala Green Jello would be something of a misnomer, and you should probably be killed for doing so. Enjoy this latest Sub Pop release.
// Notes from the Road
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