“Do To The Beast” by Afghan Whigs

April 15. 2014 | By Wayne Jessup

AfghanWhigsD2tB

Afghan Whigs
Do To The Beast
[Sup Pop]

While written off by many as a cold case, there was always a sense of unfinished business with the Afghan Whigs, and the thought of Greg Dulli quietly slinking off into the sunset just did not compute. Do To The Beast brings the band back to life in recorded form, and all doubt is dispelled with the dirty guitar charge of opener “Parked Outside.” It’s loud and corrosive and, like the return to their career launch pad Sub Pop, all is right with the world. Lyrically opposite, the “You’re gonna make me break down and cry” line sets up a kinder, gentler Dulli, that makes you wonder, but only for a second, as the beats-heavy “Matamoros” redresses the balance with Dulli’s effortless croon of, “If my desire for your company/Made this motherfucker point his gun at me…” the sonic equivalent of Samuel L. Jackson acknowledging his wallet in Pulp Fiction.

“Algiers” unleashes Dulli in full swagger. Even without the High Plains Drifter referencing video, the sparse but brutal track holds the key to all here. The broadness of their vision and unremitting focus on human nature means they’re not captive to time like many of their peers. “Lost In The Woods” is the centerpiece here, with string arrangements lending a gravitas to the world weary heavy soul. The line, “Baby, fear has a mind of its own” reverberates long after the song has passed. Older and wiser, the fire has not dimmed, and true to form, in the ghostly coda at the conclusion of final track, “These Sticks,” the final words we get from Mr. Dulli are: “I’ve come to make you pay,” as the album fades unsettlingly into the ether.

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