The grunge era's most overlooked masterpiece, Congregation was the Afghan Whigs' breakthrough album, an incendiary and insidious set which bridges the gap between the noisy aggression of the band's early releases and the soulful swagger of their later work. Slipping with ominous ease into the sinister, self-obsessed Lothario guise which would serve him so well from here on out, Greg Dulli announces his arrival as a truly magnetic presence -- by turns predator ("Tonight") and prey ("I'm Her Slave"), he's the guy your parents always warned you about, delivering each syllable of his remarkable lyrics with equal measures of innuendo and venom. Equally startling is the Whigs' musical growth -- while still unmistakably a member of the Sub Pop stable, there's a greater maturity and depth to their sinewy sound, with a newfound grasp of mood and nuance on tracks like the opening "Her Against Me" and "Let Me Lie to You" -- the wah-wah guitar which dominates "Turn On the Water," meanwhile, offers the first taste of the funk ambitions to follow. It was hardly a surprise when the Whigs jumped to Elektra soon after -- Congregation was clearly their ticket to the big leagues.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny