If your band comes to town crying hellfire and damnation, rocking a mandolin, a banjo, and at least two percussionists a-banging on various objects, I'm listening. At least I can bet you'll be good live. Portland's The Builders and The Butchers not only promises to put on a show: They've produced an exceptional new album. Epic and exhilarating from start to finish, Salvation Is a Deep Dark Well opens with "Golden and Green" a slice of big-time, operatic metal—Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath—rendered all acoustic.
Ryan Sollee's voice—whining, taunting, proclaiming, witnessing—seems affected at first, but his words will make you a believer. An intense, slow bridge builds to a climax of revivalist furor at the center of the catchy gospel tune "Short Way Home." "Down in This Hole" channels Tom Waits' vocabulary and lyrical rhythms: "Dancing while the devil taps his dirty fingernails... The innocent and kind are rounded up and thrown in jail."
The Builders and The Butchers has something to offer anyone with an appreciation for the dusty, broken side of beauty. Readers of Cormac McCarthy, acolytes of Goya and Blake, kids with V.C. Andrews novels hidden under the mattress: This is the soundtrack of your dreamworld.
The Builders and The Butchers play the Palace Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 9 PM with March of the Black Queen. $8.