A few years ago a friend introduced me to a not-so-well-known Louisiana band named Acid Bath. At the time I characterized their sound as "swamp goth" or Alice in Chains on steroids, but I've come to learn that they in fact played sludge metal, a grungier version of doom metal. They had a low, heavy sound and lyrics that dove into the macabre. I played the hell out of their songs and not just because of the music, but because of their singer. A guy called Dax Riggs.

Unfortunately, Acid Bath lost their bass player to car accident several years ago so they're no longer together. That's not stopped Riggs from pursuing other projects, however. While I'd eventually like to bring you more reviews of this incredibly talented singer/songwriter, today I'm reviewing a CD called If This is Hell I'm Lucky by Deadboy and The Elephantmen.

While this CD first saw release in 2002, due to hardships in the relationship with the band's record label it was extremely difficult to find for many years. In 2008, Fat Possum saw fit to release it again and that's the album I'm in possession of. Amazingly, the songs on the album were actually recorded back in 1997. While that could perhaps be a bad thing, maybe suggesting the tunes feel dated, this is not the case at all.

If This is Hell won't be mistaken for an Acid Bath CD because it lacks the sheer force of that band's sonic assault and contains very little of the thrash metal influences they incorporated. With this album you get a lighter sound, but you still get a heavy feel, probably due to the nature of the lyrics which often journey into darker shades poetry. Dax Riggs made his mark in the music industry with his trademark singing style and he brings it to bear in this band as well as he ever heard. The guy's got a "big voice" that's as capable of soft serenading as it is of ripping off a wailing chunk of the blues. The range he's offering here kept me interested throughout the CD and made the songs feel distinct even when the more limited instrumentation might have felt restricting.

Straight from the start, with the opening track Strange Television, you get a taste of what's to come. This song brings out classic rock-styled whining guitars and bluesy vocals before it dips into a heavier chugging sound. My favorite songs, such as Otherworldly Dreamer with its wide variety and chanting or the definitely psychadellic High Monster, bring in a strain of creativity that shows this band playing with the same elements that'd make for a good song by Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin - that is: solid rock 'n roll with a dreamy twist.

That's another thing, too, this album contains only two songs under four minutes and even those come in only seconds short. A couple surpass seven minutes. Dax gives each song time to shine and linger in your ears before switching to the next track and that gives this disc a very natural feel. It's a solid value because each of the songs are good, if not great, and there are no real "filler songs" found throughout.

It's easy to see why Henry Rollins took an interest in Deadboy and the Elephantmen. They're bringing a solid sound, skilled musicianship and a singer who writes songs worth listening to. While it's not quite as powerful as Acid Bath's offerings, I do feel it's a terrific album and well worth the ten to twelve bucks you're going to spend on it.

If you want a decent album of real rock 'n roll that learns from the classic rather than simply re-working them, I highly recommend If This is Hell Then I'm Lucky. You can't go wrong with these guys, they're offering a CD that's going to earn a lot of replay.

Lyrics submitted by mike

Deadboy & The Elephantmen - If This is Hell I'm Lucky song meanings
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  • 0
    General Comment
    Dax is excellent. Truly an astounding voice. His other album under the deadboy name "We Are the Night Sky" is amazing as well. Good review and nice find.
    tsnydermtgon August 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Comment
    Decent review =] I'm a tough grader of reviews, but I dig it.
    ETFCrashandBurnon October 14, 2008   Link

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