Over the course of a decade, Louisville, Kentucky's Young Widows evolved from angular post-hardcore (having sprung from the ashes of the more metallic Breather Resist) to a moodier, more atmospheric outfit inspired by songwriters like Nick Cave and Bill Callahan. Aside from their four studio albums, the band have issued a bevy of non-album singles and split releases with a wide range of artists, including post-metal group Pelican, Japanese noise-punks Melt-Banana, and indie folk troubadour Bonnie "Prince" Billy. Decayed: Ten Years of Cities, Wounds, Lightness, and Pain (a title which references all of the band's full-lengths) rounds up most of their extracurricular material, but in reverse chronological order, starting with both songs from the bonus 7" which came with the band's marvelous 2014 album Easy Pain, and ending with the tracks from the band's 2006 split with Coliseum. The release's most recent songs are filled with reverb-heavy drums and vocals as well as brooding guitars, sounding heavy and lumbering but not hard or abrasive. While the songs are always dark and sometimes introspective and confessional, there's a few more anthemic moments such as "Checked In/Out" and "Rose Window," which are nevertheless tense and tricky. As the album moves to the band's pre-2010 work, the influence of early grunge and noise-rock bands like Melvins and the Jesus Lizard is more easily apparent, particularly in the shouted vocal delivery and harsher guitar tones. While clearly a patchwork release rather than a proper album, Decayed is still quite consistent, and it provides an excellent opportunity to hear how far the band has come, and how much their sound has expanded and matured.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson