By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Bloomington, Indiana's Murder by Death is clearly composed of four fervent fans of music.
As such, chief songwriter and distinctive lead vocalist Adam Turla and his band have been able to work, and excel, in the medium they love so dearly for a decade, now. And they know what they're doing: The style-hopping four-piece, the members of which met in college and which musically deals in drink and demise, does its best to cater to its fans, who can be as music-savvy as the band itself. By releasing much of its catalog on vinyl, including the new release, Good Morning Magpie that the group is on tour supporting, Murder By Death's rustic, gothic Americana has a proper home and a rightful showcase, thanks to the warm crackling from a record rotating under the needle.
Rarely does a band blend upbeat melodies with downtrodden characters to such a believable effect. Ominous electric cello, an aggressively percussive rhythm and Turla's old-world and menacing vocals are perfect vehicles for unflinching tales of codependency, death and other darker subjects that Murder by Death make sound not so troublesome after all. Without even taking the band's foreboding name into account, the handling of subject matter that comprises much of Murder By Death's career would likely elevate most metal albums. Tales of bad luck and the satanic imagery that a magpie can often represent might seem more fitting with face-shredding guitars, but Murder by Death successfully makes doing bad things seem very fun.
Joining Murder by Death at this show, as well as a few other area performances this weekend, is Missouri-based Americana outfit Ha Ha Tonka, another riser among those ranks.