Review: Sons of Perdition – Trinity (2013, GraveWax Records)

Genre: Gothic Country, Traditional Country, Western

Trinity - Front Cover

It’s been three years since Zebulon Whatley released a full length under the name Sons of Perdition and Trinity marks his triumphant return with more songs of woe and damnation. Trinity completes the “Dissolution Trilogy” which also included The Kingdom is on Fire (2007) and Psalms for the Spiritually Dead (2010). As with previous releases the lyrics are full of dark, gruesome imagery. Zebulon Whatley is as much a narrator as he is a vocalist, Trinity being his most linear effort yet. His words follow the story of a man’s travels through the West as he falls into crime and descends into madness. As with the past two albums, religious themes are heavenly interspersed throughout the lyrics, if you couldn’t tell by the name. “Lenders in the Temple” criticizes the church’s greed as the poor starve around them, this is shown in one my favorite passages in the song after the priest shoots our main man’s partner after they attempt to rob the church; “The priest hit his knees like a man meant to pray, his vestments in gore, his beady eyes glazed. But he wasn’t giving last rights to my friend growing cold. The cops swarmed around me as he clawed for his gold”. The lyrics perfectly paint a picture of the story that Whatley is telling, you can practically taste the dust of the ol’ West in your mouth as you read along to his words.

The music and production is the most notable improvement from the past releases. Not that it was bad on the past two albums, but that it’s so excellent on Trinity. This sounds like the soundtrack to the most haunting western movie you’ll ever see. “Bones of Ymir”, a story of cannibalism and madness, is downright creepy. Perfectly supplementing Zebulon’s crooning voice is an orchestra of eerie, rising violin, crawling double bass lines, some background ambiance sounds, and subtle electric guitar lines that build up to a cacophonous conclusion. “The Serpent” sounds like the getaway music of an outlaw on the run with it’s galloping acoustic guitar, soaring strings, and classical guitar melody. The vocals in the chorus are quite catchy too. “Profane the Night” features an electric guitar rolling through chords with heavy use of the vibrato bar, a classic sound in many westerns, as Whatley’s distorted, demonic vocals (that have been heavily overdubbed) trade words back and forth with Sophia Nadaud’s howling voice. The music on “Lenders on the Temple” is much more pleasant than the gorey lyrics would make you think; with soft piano parts, harmonica, and some acoustic guitar guided by slow paced double bass lines. The longest track on the album at just over seven minutes, “Zero Point” leads us towards the epic conclusion, building up with piano and soft acoustic guitar before a fuzzed out electric guitar breaks through with the closest thing to a guitar solo you’re going to get on a Sons of Perdition album. The album slows down and closes with “Ascension”, the epilogue to Whatley’s epic tale, as the Apocalypse seems to come true with Whatley trading vocals with Peter Murphy of Peter Murphy ‘s Carver Combo (not of Bauhaus, it’s okay I got mixed up too). Would you expect any other ending from Sons of Perdition?

This album is the closest thing you’re going to get to stumbling upon a stranger’s campsite in the Old West and having him tell you a story of murder, damnation, and woe. Zebulon Whatley’s haunting voice and words full of dark and gruesome imagery backed by his layered, meticulously composed instrumentals will throw you right into the heart of the story as it plays out in your head like an old picture show. I loved this album from start to finish, and I’m sure anyone into dark country, western films, and murder ballads will love it too. It may be a bit grim for the average music fan, but for the storytelling aspect alone I recommend that anyone at least give it a try.

Trinity will be released on November 12th 2013.

9/10

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Let me know what you think when it comes out!

sop

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