Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 8: Dax Riggs, "Living Is Suicide"

Artist: Dax Riggs
Song: Living Is Suicide
Album: We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love
Year: 2007

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN (will open in new tab)

In an era of music when a majority of the songs being recorded are stale and unimaginative, it is the smaller bands, those who create exciting, fresh sounds, that serve as the flickering hope for a positive change in music.  Whether they are blending together genres like never before or simply giving new life to an old sound, though few and far between, these artists are the most precious of all the modern musicians.  Consistently creating original and powerful rock music for the better part of two decades, there are few modern artists who can compare to the amazing talents of Dax Riggs.  From his early years with the band Acid Bath to his breakthrough with deadboy & The Elephantmen, he has kept developing his lo-fi rock approach, and the manner with which he combines dark metal with the classic rock sound is unlike that of anyone else making music today.  After closing the books on deadboy & The Elephantmen after just one fantastic record, Riggs kept many of the members from the previous band and rechristened the group with his own name.  In 2007, Dax Riggs (both band and musician) released their debut record, We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love, and the album remains one of the finest of the decade, filled with heavy hooks and crushing instrumentation.  Throughout the album, the murky, gloomy mood persists, yet Riggs finds countless ways to spin this mood well beyond the "normal" slow, winding sound that this tone usually supports.  Defining his amazing musical ability, as well as the diversity throughout the album, few songs better represent the sound of Dax Riggs than his 2007 track, "Living Is Suicide."

Trimming down the number of players from the deadboy & The Elephantmen record, on "Living Is Suicide," the group is a quartet, with Riggs again handling lead guitar duties.  The song begins with another catchy hook, something that is a common theme on nearly every song on We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love.  With the simple, choppy guitar riff, punctuated by the drum and tambourine of Adam Clement, "Living Is Suicide" immediately takes on a distinct rhythm, and it is one of the most infectious songs of Riggs' entire career.  It is also within this more laid back, almost street-corner melody and mood that one can hear the true talents of Riggs as a composer, as he clearly understands the concept of creating intense, dark moods with quieter, more melodic music, as well as with the louder, more aggressive approach.  Further adding to this fantastic mood, the keyboards of Sean Keating underscore the entire progression, giving the song an amazing amount of depth and perfectly filling out the "open space."  The band builds a great amount of tension before bursting head-first into the songs' final section, led by the bass of Alex Bergeron.  It is in this extended ending that the band shows their ability to rock with the likes of the best bands on the planet.  The energy that comes from the track is superb, and one can easily feel how much each band member is "into" the song.  Never losing sight of the core melody, they speed it up and turn up the distortion, creating true sonic bliss and proving why Riggs is one of the most original and talented musicians of his generation.

Along with his obvious talent for musical arrangement, Dax Riggs also uses We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love to further solidify the fact that he is one of the most impressive vocalists and writers of his generation.  With a vocal range that shows no limitations, there is also a certain softness and subtlety to his voice, and it is what distinguishes him from his peers.  It is this aspect, along with the "swagger" that comes through during the first half of "Living Is Suicide" that pushes the song ahead of the rest of the record, as Riggs masterfully pushes his emotion and volume to the top when needed, and it makes certain lines more powerful, whilst keeping the entire song on a steady, moody path.  Within the singing style and lyrics on "Living Is Suicide," it also becomes clear that, as is the case with a majority of the album, Riggs is bringing in his love for blues music, and the structure clearly shows this point.  The verses follow the "standard" blues format, and once one recognizes this fact, the music over which they are sung can be seen in a more "bluesy" light, adding yet another style into the mixture which Riggs has created.  The song title leaves little to the imagination, and it is this song that best captures the overall themes which run throughout all of We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love.  Whether it is a brilliant phrase like, "...have mercy on The Devil, he's a friend of mine..." or a more profound thought like, "...if god looked upon us, it would surely leave us blind...," Riggs shows his uncanny ability to make amazing, powerful statements with few words.  Combining his unique voice and poetic words, it is the singing of Dax Riggs that stands as perhaps the only thing better than the music which he has composed on "Living Is Suicide."

After years of working with different musical lineups, in 2007, Dax Riggs put together a quartet of musicians and released an album that is without question his most powerful and moody to date.  Further exploring the blues-rock that found its way onto the "final" deadboy & The Elephantmen record, Riggs clearly hits his musical stride, and We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love is packed full of memorable hooks, crushing vocals, and unrivaled morose moods.  This shadow that seems to hang over the entire album never gets boring or cliché, as Riggs reveals new ways to spin it on every single track.  From slow, dark numbers to all out heavy-metal assaults, Riggs and his band shine on every song, and "Living Is Suicide" shows many of these styles in a single song.  Clocking in at just under two minutes, Riggs does not leave a second wasted, pushing different tempos and styles into the track, a feat that few bands can pull off even with twice the run-time.  Mixing together metal, punk, folk, blues, and perhaps a bit of glam-rock, there are few artists of any era who can compare to the imagination and complete talents of Dax Riggs, and his debut record under his own name remains the highpoint of his career to this point.  Bringing together his perfectly constructed allusions and images, Riggs creates a snarky yet somber mood on "Living Is Suicide," shedding a bit of light into his usually gothic mood.  With each of his bandmates playing in extraordinary fashion, the tone and emotions that run through the two-minutes make Dax Riggs' 2007 song, "Living Is Suicide" not only one of his finest moments, but one of the bright spots in an overall dull and unoriginal musical landscape.

No comments: