Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sepstrup USER (20 Reviews)
May 30th, 2006 | 38 replies | 37,861 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Nick Cave is certainly an interesting artist. He is intensely fascinated with death, murder, love and religion, and mixes all of these subjects into his songs. This time Nick Cave decided to bless us with a double album, entitled Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus. This probably have people divided, some thrilled because thereíll be a lot of new music by Nick Cave for people to listen to, and some who are afraid that this will suffer from what most double-albums suffer from. Fillers. In actual fact these discs are just about 40 minutes in length each, and could probably have been slapped on to a single album, with a few outtakes. Why werenít they then? Well thereís a very simple reason. These are two separate albums, in a sense, with a completely different feel to each of them, stressed by the fact that they have two different titles, both aptly chosen. Abattoir Blues is Nick Caveís attempt at blues-rock, while The Lyre of Orpheus is a gentler album consisting of mostly ballads, though there are a few exceptions . I donít necessarily listen to one and then the next afterwards. Thereís no cd 1 and cd 2. They could have been released separately, which gives me, the reviewer, a problem. How is this supposed to be reviewed? As one entity, or as two separate albums? I decided to do a bit of both, and even giving a separate rating for each album. Weíll start with Abattoir Blues, since itís first in the title.

True to Nick Caveís style, most of these songs are about love or religion or both, fairly evident on the first track of Abattoir Blues.

ďGet ready for love! Praise Him!" is repeated in the powerful blues-rock chorus, complete with a gospel choir, crashing drums and guitar. Itís clear from the very first line that his lyrics revolve around religion, which might be somewhat of a pet peeve to some. Now, Iím not much of a Christian, but thereís no denying that this is a fantastic song, which sets the tone for the first of the two albums. The album does shift between up-tempo and quiet songs, even though it is considerably rockier than The Lyre of Orpheus. A song like "Messiah Ward", couldíve been on Orpheus instead, itís not exactly a strict division. The over-all feel of the albums are quite different though. This is no ďThe Boatmanís Call". Gone are the gentle, introspective ballads, replaced by loud rock ní roll. Many of the songs feature the same majestic choruses with gospel choirs, which work surprisingly well, avoiding the obvious risk of sounding cheesy. In fact Abattoir Blues wouldnít be as good at all without the gospel choirs. The stand-out track "Hiding All The Way", builds up for minutes, ending with with Nick Cave crying out, accompanied by his choir, "There is a war coming" repeatedly, which happens to be one of the best moments on a Nick Cave album (...that Iíve heard).

His lyrics are packed with imagery as usual, a lot of it with religious undertones, but it doesnít hurt the album at all. The songs do have very different lyrics though, for example stand-out track "There She Goes, My Beautiful World", which upon first listen will seem like a love song, but is actually about the act of writing, or rather not being able to write anything. (ďJohn Willmot penned his poetry / Riddled with the pox / Nabakov Wrote on index cards / at a lectern, in his socks / St. John of the Cross did his best stuff / Imprisoned in a box / And Johnny Thunders was half alive / When he wrote Chinese Rocks") , followed by a stanza, which opens with (ďWell, me Iím lying here, with nothing in my ears"). Nick Cave laments that he wants to move the world, but is unable to come up with anything. The lyrics are actually quite different throughout the album, and definitely add another layer of enjoyment to the record. Nick Cave is very famous for his literary, though dark lyrics, which are comparable to artists like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.

The album closer is "Fable Of The Brown Ape", which uses a soft verse and a powerful chorus (Iíve said that a lot, I know, but a lot of the choruses are really strong, which is augmented by the choir) to create a sharp contrast. It ends the album on a sombre note, but the song itself is not as strong as some of the other songs on the album.

Kicking off the second album is an equally strong opener, though a more quietly disturbing track called The Lyre of Orpheus. It tells the tale of the musician and poet Orpheus, with a Nick Cave twist. The lyrics are dark and humurous, to the point where some might find them cheesy and silly. (Look what Iíve made, cried Orpheus / And he plucked a gentle note / Eurydiceís eyes popped from their sockets / And her tongue burst through her throat). Nearing the end of the song, she threatens to stick the lyre up his ďorifice" as it is elequently put. The song doesnít have an actual chorus, but a short refrain (O mamma) at the end of each stanza. This is a definite highlight. It isnít as representative of the album though, as ďLet The Bells Ring" was for Abattoir, in that it isnít a very gentle or soft song at all. Itís quite menacing and disturbing. The choir is often heard on this disc as well, but used to add emotion to the songs, rather than adding punch to a chorus, as it is mainly used on Abattoir.

The next song "Breathless", however, is much softer and gentler, though quite upbeat and happy. It starts with a lot of strange flute sounds, but is really a pretty standard love/religious song (The lines are somewhat blurred in a lot of his songs. Whether he is praising a woman or God or both isnít always clear). Again the flow of gentle songs is not a constant throughout the album. "Supernaturally" is quite upbeat , while retaining a more or less accoustic instrumentation., and the aforemention "The Lyre of Orpheus" is really not that gentle at all. Whatís true for all of the songs is the quality of the songwriting, though some of course stand out more than others. If you choose to listen to it in the order of Abattoir Blues followed by The Lyre of Orpheus, you have advantage of one mother of a closing track. "O Children" is a fantastic, epic, frightening ballad, up there with the best songs Nick Cave have recorded.

In conclusion, this is a fantastic double-album by Nick Cave, which does not suffer from the fillers most double-albums seem to. Itís as good a starting place as any to get into Nick Cave, since, while it is lengthy, it is divided into two albums, which can be absorbed one at a time. Most of the brilliant tracks are on Abattoir Blues, and as a whole, it is a better album. The Lyre of Orpheus does drag slightly, at least when put against Abattoir Blues. The two albums are good for different moods though. I was actually surprised when I realized that I preferred Abattoir of the two, because Nick Cave usually writes songs in the style of "The Lyre of Orpheus", and it was really that album I was anticipating the most when I bought this. Below are the ratings and some highlight tracks, which I found very hard to pick for this album.

Abattoir Blues: 4,5/5
Highlights:
Get Ready For Love
Hiding All Away (Probably the best track on Abattoir)
There She Goes My Beautiful World


The Lyre of Orpheus: 3,5/5
Highlights:
The Lyre Of Orpheus
Supernaturally
O Children (Hands down the best track on Orpheus)

Combined score: 4/5 Ė A solid album, strongly recommended.



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user ratings (207)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
May 30th 2006



2647 Comments


Great job on the review. I haven't listened to much Nick Cave but everything that I've listened to so far has been good.

superpeer
May 30th 2006



257 Comments


Great review. I've been thinking about picking this up for a while, even though I've only heard Nature Boy.

AlienEater
May 31st 2006



716 Comments


I have the B sides and rarities, and Your Funeral, My Wedding, or whatever it's called. Maybe I'll get this sometime. Excellent review.

Sepstrup
May 31st 2006



1563 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nature boy is fairly similar to a lot of the tracks on Abattoir. If you like that song you'll probably like the album.

jrowa001
March 12th 2007



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is a great nick cave album. hes my favorite songwriter of all time. hes never put out a disappointing album imo

samthebassman
March 13th 2007



2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This a great album, my fave by him.

unbornchikkenvoices
November 10th 2007



78 Comments


Get Ready for Love is a great song. Download it. Now.

AtavanHalen
November 10th 2007



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this album. Very good review.

spoon_of_grimbo
April 17th 2008



2240 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is my first experience of nick cave's music (aside from having seen the latter half of the video for "the ship song" and sikth's cover of "tupelo"), and although the constant religious references are a little grating (i'm really not a big fan of organised religion), i'm liking it overall.

EyesWideShut
November 7th 2010



3099 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The Lyre of Orpheus album is damn near perfect. The title track is the weakest song on the album. still gotta listen to Abattoir but after months of Lyre im half way to a 5'er

qwe3
November 30th 2010



21353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it was awesome when o children came on in harry potter

EyesWideShut
December 4th 2010



3099 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Nick Cave appears when u least expect him.. in this case harry potter was his calling.

McCopper
December 6th 2010



1367 Comments


I love the lyre of orpheus but he has a very big discography and I have only listened to random songs and Tender prey so far.
What albums should I get next?

PurpleDrank
December 6th 2010



417 Comments


all of them

McCopper
December 6th 2010



1367 Comments


But what's the closest to The lyre of orpheus?I want to start with stuff as similar as possible to it.

WhiteNoise
December 6th 2010



3048 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've only heard Grinderman 2 and Dig Lazarus Dig.

Digging: Dot Hacker - How's Your Process? (Work)

AtavanHalen
December 6th 2010



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love the lyre of orpheus but he has a very big discography and I have only listened to random songs and Tender prey so far.
What albums should I get next?


Let Love In.

McCopper
December 6th 2010



1367 Comments


K, thanks

EyesWideShut
December 6th 2010



3099 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Nicks got a major discography but with a tough choice i would say get No more Shall we Part or Boatman. Those are more layed back like I found Orpheus to be.

Let Love In is more like Abbatoir, IMO.

McCopper
December 17th 2010



1367 Comments


Great review but I don't agree with the ratings after all.
Abattoir blues - 4.0 (might have to bump this up by 0.5 though)
The lyre of orpheus - 5.0
Overall - 4.5

The lyre of orpheus is possibly the album that instantly gripped me more than anything else.It took spot 11 on my top100 albums list within a week.I love every second of it and it never bores me.Of course it's a little early to judge but I have high hopes that I will love this for years to come.



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