Album of the Week: Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, 'CARNAGE'

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Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, 'CARNAGE'
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, 'CARNAGE' (Courtesy of Goliath)
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Nick Cave has been teasing a new project with longtime collaborator Warren Ellis, even going so far as to announce it would be called CARNAGE, but it was still a surprise when the album was suddenly released digitally a few days ago. It's immediately apparent that this is a record of vast depth, and another striking addition to his catalog.

CARNAGE strikes an even balance between the tumultuous narratives of Cave's earlier work with the Bad Seeds, and the contemplative tone of his last few albums, notably recorded in the wake of the death of his son Arthur in 2015.

The first half of the record taps into Cave's twisted gothic imagination, notably on the bonechilling "Hand of God" and the surging "Old Time." "White Elephant" is the album's clear centerpiece, building from an almost unbearably tense saga about a "white hunter" that eventually gives way to an anthemic, "Hey Jude"-esque outro about a future in a "kingdom in the sky." It's a transcendent moment, and a highlight of his recent work.

The second half of the record is more decidedly subdued, as if the pivot point midway through "White Elephant" turns the entire album. The sound is much more in line with 2019's Ghosteen, more contemplative songs that perhaps delve into his relationship with his wife in the wake of their son's death. He even returns to the motif of the kingdom in the sky on "Lavender Fields."

There's no clear-cut end to grief, and thus any attempt to label CARNAGE as a capstone to this section of Cave's life would be done so in folly. Emotions are ever-unfolding, and Cave is not a person who will try to wrap life into a tidy package, but CARNAGE truly does feel like a summation of the last several years of his career and life, and is a milestone of sorts in both realms.

External Link

Nick Cave - Official Website

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