Ever notice how hilarious Nick Cave is? Seriously, the guy's a scream. Take, for instance, Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus, the goth maestro's 666th release since leaving the mythic gloom-punk group the Birthday Party over two decades ago. This double disc is infested with every ghoulish punchline and macabre cliche in the big black book: nooses, serpents, gargoyles, cannibals, catacombs, cathedrals and the clank of heavy chains. But while much of the singer's music is mired in cartoony spookiness, this new work weaves his litany of lust and sin into a broader tapestry of literature, anthropology and ironic gospel -- not to mention a blood-curdling dose of thunderous rock and roll that offsets his more overblown, piano-ballad tendencies. Cave's knack for farcical self-caricature may have gained him much acclaim over the years, but Abattoir's thematic and textural richness makes a lot of his past output seem like a sick joke.
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