Murder 1

On High

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Though Murder 1's new vocalist Will Naga has a similar smooth and darkly anthemic style to the Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, the New Jersey group is rooted firmly in the East Coast and British metal lineage -- there's not a trace of California desert rock here. But On High is Murder 1's best album, shedding the band's scum rock past for straightforward blues-rock. Songs like "White Horse Trail" focus on the thundering groove, and the title track even follows a piano melody that is haunting and subtle. Murder 1 is at its best when Tolkien-inspired, like the swords and sorcery of "Helm's Deep," where Naga croons "shed a tear for the Druids" -- now that's a lyric! The song beautifully harks back to the brilliant folk-metal of Led Zeppelin III, making you wonder when Murder 1 will get it together and release an entire Lord of the Rings album.

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