Dax Riggs

We Sing of Only Blood or Love

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We Sing of Only Blood or Love, Dax Riggs' first album under his given name, touches on the sounds and moods of his previous projects, fusing the bluesy eclecticism of Deadboy & the Elephantmen and Agents of Oblivion with ominous shades of his earlier sludge metal outfit, Acid Bath. The album's best moments pull the listener into Riggs' eternal nighttime and don't let go: "Night Is the Notion" begins with sidewinding menace and a swarm of smoky guitars, then lunges into its choruses with rattling, ruined honky tonk pianos, while "Truth in the Dark"'s goth-punk gets a seductive sheen courtesy of sleek synths. However, Riggs' fusion of blues and metal doesn't always work. For every "Scarlett of Heaven Nor Hell" -- a tightly wound rocker driven by Riggs' throaty growl of a voice and thorny guitars -- there's a song like "Radiation Blues" or "A Spinning Song," both of which fall prey to clich├ęd, repetitive songwriting. We Sing of Only Blood or Love's first half often feels disappointingly straightforward, especially compared to how effortlessly Deadboy & the Elephantmen threw together punk, blues, glam rock, and folk and made them fit together in a perfect, and perfectly unpredictable, way. However, as the album unfolds, so does Riggs' restless creativity. Veering from the gritty spareness of the acoustic "Ourobourous" to the full-tilt punk stomp of "The Wall of Death," We Sing of Only Blood or Love's second half brims with invigorating twists and turns. "Dog-Headed Whore" recasts Led Zeppelin's folk-blues as a bayou lament; "Ghost Movement" and "Dethbryte" nod to the theatrical glam rock that has been a major influence on Riggs' post-Acid Bath music. Likewise, Riggs seems more engaged when he sings about being alive in the face of death rather than brooding over the end of life, as on the strutting, vibrant "Forgot I Was Alive" and "Living Is Suicide." We Sing of Only Blood or Love is frustratingly uneven, but at its darkly witty best, it's a fine solo debut for Riggs.

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