Dax Riggs - Say Goodnight to the World
Dax Rigg's latest musical offering opens with a title track. Thin, bluesy guitar meanders over thick, bluesy bass and this is a theme that will be repeated time and again on this disc. "I Hear Satan" is a slightly wider anthem to occult paranoia. "You were born to be my Gallows" is a reserved, almost jazzy love number, followed by "Gravedirt on my Blue Suede Shoes", a rock-and-roll shuffle that doesn't spare on the pagan lyrical themes and blues-crooner vocal bends. "Like Moonlight" is a somber and melancholic ballad reminiscent of Agents of Oblivion era releases. "No One Will be a Stranger" is a simple pop rock song taken to the next level by impeccable vocals. Dax's rendition of "Heartbreak Hotel" is downright haunting. It echoes with emptiness, and you can feel the loneliness as its sung the way you can feel the devastation in a Son House or Muddy Waters track. "Sleeping With the Witch" is a drunk folk hymn doused in LSD, Dax's ethereal vocals blowing the simple progression into the stratosphere. "Let Me Be Your Cigarette" follows as a stoner-toned anthem to desire, not skimping on Dax's excellent upper register. The album ends on a desperate note with "See You All In Hell Or New Orleans", an absolutely haunting croon-fest whose unsettling cadence is reminiscent of some of the more sinister things to come from The Mars Volta.
The production on this album is probably its strongest selling point. You can practically smell the spilled beer and pot smoke in the air, and you always feel as if a drunken bar brawl could break out at any moment. The atmosphere of the album does a great job conveying the gritty, soulful torment that Dax and his varied bands have become so expert at projecting musically. This time around, however, their surroundings follow suite and everything sounds exactly in its right place. At times the album even coveys a mid-60's production aesthetic that smacks of The Velvet Underground and The Doors, yet sacrifices no clarity or substance.
Compositionally, this release is both exactly what you might come to expect from Dax Riggs and yet an entirely new direction. None of these tracks are particularly "heavy" in a "metal" sense, yet the imagery they portray and the gritty atmosphere they invoke give this album huge balls. Dax's vocals are as impressive as always; a delightful blend of whiskey-driven wails ("Heartbreak Hotel") and virtuosic falsettos and vibratos ("You Were Born To Be My Gallows"). At times some of the leads are a bit thin while the bass can come through in a very "live" way, so a little shift in the spotlight would have been welcome. The argument could also be made that some of the reverbs and echoes are overdone, but not by so much as to sound cheesy.
It wouldn't be right to speak a great deal about the originality of this album for a few reasons. For one, Dax has been making music for damn near 20 years and his voice is instantly recognizable. Each musical project he has undertaken has had a different musical envelope, yet he has rarely deviated from the style he has had from the beginning. You are either going to love it or loathe it, and that's that.
The bottom line is that if you like some of the other acts Dax Riggs has been involved with over the years (Acid Bath, Agents of Oblivion, etc) you will most certainly want to give this album a listen. Even if you aren't familiar with Dax's catalogue, this disc offers something for almost anyone; the lower key numbers are probably well executed enough to elicit a reaction from fans of jazz, blues, and country fans, and the heavier tracks have way more substance than anything you'll find on rock radio these days. Next time you go out for a 6 pack or some papers, grab this album. You wont be disappointed.