afghanwhigs

Their first album in 16 years, and having sworn never to reform after their 2001 split, ‘Do to the Beast’ is an unexpected bonus for fans of The Afghan Whigs. There are plenty of them, after all, out there. Having come to the fore during the grunge era, the group went on to achieve mainstream success on Sony/Columbia in the mid-90s and it’s that kaleidoscopic alternative rock sound that dominates on this record.

‘Matamoros’, for example, welds Red Hot Chili Peppers-funk to Battles-esque math rock with surprisingly positive results, while ‘It Kills’ is an exercise in bombast that might be categorised as something approaching rock opera. Elsewhere, ‘Parked Outside’ and ‘The Lottery’ could have been plucked straight from the original, grungiest incarnation of the group that emerged with such raw energy in the late ’80s. The themes (depression, substance abuse, sex) are the same as always and Greg Dulli’s theatrical, Meatloaf-esque delivery, overwrought throughout, is a constant reminder that this is very much a throwback to rock’s more extravagant excesses.

It means that the album isn’t for everyone but the Whigs never pretended to build their modus operandi on refinement. And so if you want big choruses, arena-scale drums and screaming guitars then ‘Do to the Beast’ is for you. For devotees of the group it’ll feel like the last 13 years was just a dream.

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