An explosive introductory track disguised as “The Gravedigger’s Song” smokes the competition as drum machines and Lanegan’s stone delivery chills the ears. It raises the hair on the neck like a cold October twilight, but with this pounding percussion assault, Lanegan becomes this graveyard master. He conducts the swings of the hanging trees, sparks the cold iron gates, and pushes toward monuments of obelisks.
Lanegan describes, “With piranha teeth, I’ve been dreaming of you. And the taste of your love, so sweet, honest, it’s true.” Lanegan throughout his career, and especially on Blues Funeral takes an immensely depressing stance on the delivery and forces a hand of falling to relapse. The windows close, the velvet curtains are drawn together, and in a slick black suit on marble floors, Lanegan holds his ground.
Undeniably on the following track, “Bleeding Muddy Water” that conquers because of the production coming from Alain Johannes who can sculpt obsidian from the sand. Moving like a phantom of the production, Johannes has his hands all over Blues Funeral and due to the gothic nature of the record, can thrive under the bouquet of wilting flowers.
Lanegan’s repetition of hooks that describe, “Muddy water drowning in the rain, now the raid done come. Lord, now the rain done come,” are synonymous with emptiness that overshadows the atmosphere. Here, when reaching the final verse, Lanegan describes, “Muddy water, be my grave. You are the master, I’ve been the slave. Muddy water, rising up, you know I feel you in my iron lung.”
As the water continues to pour on the head of the audience until they are practically submerged in a realm of misery, Blues Funeral continues to crank the lever that lowers the wooden box into the Earth’s crust.
Later tracks like “Quiver Syndrome” however give vital signs to an otherwise incredibly lifeless record. Not saying that the album isn’t passionate or exceptional, but the tonality of Blues Funeral is built, as the title suggests, like a funeral.
It leads the procession into the dimly-lit and frankly frightening surroundings where Lanegan leads the service. But as “Quiver Syndrome” hits the speakers, his vocal delivery is more built around creating sparks that fly and shift into overdrive. Describing as a symphony of sound backs him, “The moon don’t smile on Saturday’s child, lying still in Elysian Fields. I don’t know what the doctor, he did. Now I’m all day long with my body in bed.”
With the overpowering cold grasp of the skeletal hands that just barely grace the audience, there is real fear in Blues Funeral. Like the friend that lost all hope, it must be watched closely as the vibrant façade is only merely just that.