I've been listening to the worn, rugged, bleak sounds of Blood Warrior for some while now.
It's been spinning through my mind, cascading around my head like a glass full of cigarette butts soaking in somebody else's bourbon. It's been making its way through my consciousness, drilling in like old boots scraping across wood with rats exploring the world 'neath the floorboards. It's been calling to me like the bearded old stranger down by the diner on the corner who strangely knows my name and never lets me forget my sins.
Blood Warrior is "the culmination of a life long collaborative desire between friends." The friends are O'Death's Greg Jamie, Super Monster's Joey Weiss, Rubin Berger, and Kristin Kellas.
Their debut recording is a self-titled effort of roots, folk, gospel, Americana, and psychedelica. It's a record of madness and of darkness, but it's also a record of surprising joy. As much as it had my mind sloshing knee-deep through the cavernous places, it also had my hands clapping and my toes tapping. So it goes.
At the core of this album is the eight-minute "Choir." A slow, thoughtful piece of folk music, the second track takes its strength from a repeated melody and carries out through a comfortless set of lyrics. Things get remarkably and suddenly beautiful when Kellas' vocals enter and subtly add her spirit.
Blood Warrior began as a recording project in Jamie's childhood home. This makes perfect sense, as the rustic tinge of melancholy running through the recording comes about organically.
There's a quietly desperate quality, one made out of hollowed-out houses and yellow fields that reach on further than imagination.
Apart from "Choir," the songs barely exceed the three-minute mark and maintain a sense of slight, tenderly sinister folk. Blood Warrior fiddles with old casios and organs and autoharps, creating a sound that comes from dust-covered ingredients. The harmonies help, like the relatively raucous set found on "Snake Seer."
Whether the somewhat scary vibe of "Blood Letting" or the cracked, torn shards of "Heaven," Blood Warrior offers interesting substance with every movement. There's a reason this record rattles, creaks and groans like an old house when it moves. So it goes.