"Do To The Beast" - The Afghan Whigs [Official Album Stream + Zumic Review]

Patrick Lyons

by Patrick Lyons

Published April 7, 2014

The Afghan Whigs are back with their first record in 16 years, and the wait has seen them mature, but they haven't slowed down. Since the band's 2001 breakup, it's been a long road getting back to recording new music, but they've returned with brand new songs and brand new sounds. The record is not only diverse as a whole, each song sees dramatic shifts and additions as they play.

Original lead guitarist Rick McCollum has left the band, but frontman Greg Dulli told Rolling Stone that it opened up new possibilities for Do To The Beast's writing process:

"I'm very aware of the legacy that we're engaging, because I helped create it. But if we wanted to keep going, we had to go further. Once we decided to do this album without Rick, I felt set free to do whatever I wanted — revisit sounds I used to like and mix them with sounds I'm exploring now. Whether or not someone agrees with my methodology — well, there are no rules in rock & roll. And if there were, I would've surely broken them."

"Parked Outside" kicks off the record, and they floor it from the get go, with gritty guitars forming a massive stereo image, almost drowning out Dulli's powerful vocals. The rock riffs are strong and the drums are huge, but things change right away for "Matamoros," a multi-textured, dynamic tune with a multitude of moods and feelings throughout. The intricate instrumentation is woven together and pulled apart, similar to the following "It Kills," a track marked with morose melodies and quiet piano surging in and out as he sings, "It kills to watch you love another."

The previously heard "Algiers" comes next, with country-inspired guitars and rhythms. Dulli's falsetto soars above, singing wistful lyrics before a chunky guitar solo. The track is typical of the entire album, that is: always changing, with steadily growing layers of instrumentation and thematically dark material.

"Lost In The Woods" carries eerie verses into surprising pop-rock choruses, a stark contrast, but the Whigs fly into the change without batting an eye, almost like an orchestra's segue into a new movement. Part of the musical variety across the record may stem from the fact that Dulli wrote in a different way. Speaking to Rolling Stone, he said:

"For the first time ever, I wrote all the music first; then I wrote the words after — a big mountain to climb. I walked around through the neighborhoods of my life, using my imagination to create environments that I could move around in."

Each song on the record sees new territory, with ever-building layers and lyrical themes acting as the common thread. "The Lottery" finds its home as a '90s throwback and "Can Rova" explores an electronic dance beat, a style "Royal Cream" takes even further with neo-disco rhythms propelling it throughout.

"These Sticks" brings a massive crescendo before it closes Do To The Beast. The record as a whole evolves and explores -- just like each individual song has more textures and feelings than it has lines -- culminating in a climactic chaos before fading out. Stream the whole album above.

Do To The Beast will be out April 15th on Sub Pop, and you can pre-order it through Amazon. Be sure to check out the official video for "Algiers" right here at Zumic.


The Afghan Whigs
Alternative Rock Indie-Rock Rock
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