It seems odd that the most eerily Southern Gothic act currently gripping the scene should call New York City home. Rather than that apex of urbanity, the music of O'Death — in which banjos, fiddles and junkyard percussion dangle and writhe like serpents in an Appalachian church revival — conjures America's most secluded regions.
"Greg `Jamie`, the primary lyricist of the band, is a genuine folkie," says drummer David Rogers-Berry. "His parents brought him up on folk music, so from the beginning that's the world that he's coming from."
The pursuit of something unique is what magnetized the rest of the band, many of whom bring rock sensibilities. As hillbilly as it is gypsy, O'Death's aboriginal Americana is a rapturously disturbing culmination of powerfully evocative music cultures. With songs that rattle and stomp with folk's most identifiable emblems, the expressional mileage of traditional music forms and practices isn't lost on the band. Their sonic vocabulary is nothing if not a model of patina, purpose and precision. More haunted and haunting than even William Elliott Whitmore, their tempestuous folk twitches render a world of isolated, untamed atmosphere.
As if forged from the detritus of a rusty mountain still, O'Death's sound is unmistakably coarse. To put it in purely sonic terms, Rogers-Berry says, "We're attracted to dirty music, dirty sounds, whether it's old-time or the Misfits. You know, what I like about a lot of lo-fi recordings is `that` the energy feels uncontainable, like what the people are doing is not restrainable. That grit and rawness is definitely something that appeals to the band pretty universally and I think that's not really a genre thing."
In fact, to discuss O'Death only in terms of their fringe stylistic devices is to miss much of the point. Their essence, which leaps to life like a flame in their bloodthirsty performances, is something far more intense and urgent.
"Attaining a certain energy is something that's been very important to us," says Rogers-Berry. "Something about a lot of early punk rock, which means a lot to a lot of us in the band, is that it makes you feel alive. It makes your heart beat faster and it makes you wanna get up and do something."
This elemental aim yields a potent perspective. While Man Man employs a similar tactic of arty hyperbole, O'Death throbs with a rough reality that's at once more human and jarring. Their macabre hex, with its supernatural ability to possess, has taken them in a few short years from a small but storied Orlando show in 2006 at Will's Pub (one of their first-ever performances) to the release of their transfixing third album, Broken Hymns, Limbs and Skin, on hot-shot indie label Kemado Records (the Sword, Vietnam, Saviours).
"There's a lot of heavy subjects in our music, I guess, dark stuff," Rogers-Berry says. "But a lot of times dark stuff is supposed to be fun. I just spent time with some witches, and people that take the spiritual parts of life seriously often are willing to admit that there's just something intriguing and fun about darkness."email@example.com
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