Scott H. Biram – Nothin’ But Blood
Release date: February 4 2014
The cover really says a lot! Something heavy is happening to Scott H. Biram. There he is, eyes rolling back in his head, arms outstretched, consumed with bliss, exhaustion, or guilt, being consigned to the old crimson river. In this moment, being baptized in blood might be Biram’s dark epiphany, the twelve songs of Nothin’ But Blood is a conduit for an emotional fight or flight, relaying a deep personal grapple between the pure and the impure, good and bad, the beautiful dream and an ugly reality.
This album is self-examining and penitent, yet still as crazy as a loon. On his ninth album (and fifth for Bloodshot Records – which is a fitting label name for this release!!) ‘blood’ is many, often inherently contradictory, themes: life, death, suffering, evil, commitment, legacy, atonement.
If you are looking to sit right back in your couch and have a relaxing listen, this is probably not the product for you. Nothin’ But Blood demands attention and it will throw you around a little. A little bit Willie, Seasick, Howlin’ and metal mayhem cussing, this is a unique blend that will not leave your head in a goddamn hurry.
There are songs where Biram – the hard-living, whiskey-loving lifelong Texan – howls of mortality (“When I Die”), sin (“Backdoor Man”), and guilt and frustration (“Slow & Easy”), all the while struggling with on which side he’ll end up. He deftly sews together a myriad of flawed everyman characters: nostalgic, stoned veteran (“Nam Weed”); boozing, jealous lover (“Alcohol Blues”) and sadistic muses (“Church Point Girls” – boy does this one motor along!).
The rousing Black Flag-meets-Son House boot-stomper “Only Whiskey” punches a hole in the notion of temperance and rewrites the meaning of monogamy – the story of a man so disillusioned with romance he reserves vice as his permanent bed partner. In “Gotta Get to Heaven”, fervent “hallelujahs” allude to a youthful and impious man, who quit church at ten years-old but also found his life’s calling when an African-American Baptist choir performed for his grade school. “Around the Bend” encompasses his penchant for sludge metal and palm muting, there are profound truths of sentimental acoustic blues and country in “Never Comin’ Home”, the cleansing powers of gospel hymns and spiritual ballads (“Amazing Grace”), and folk tales from the early twentieth century (a beautifully creepy take on “Jack of Diamonds”).
When you boil it all down in a simmering cauldron, Nothin’ But Blood (recorded at Biram’s home studio and Cacophony Studios in Austin TX) is storytelling about wrongdoing and redemption. Scott H. Biram’s music has an attitude which is hard not to admire. Take a chance to be shaken up and buy this.