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Saturnalia – The Sunday Paper

The Gutter Twins >
4 Stars

Remember when you were a kid and your parents warned you against hanging out with certain kids—the ones who were no good and would only lead you into trouble? Yeah, well, that’s these guys.

The Gutter Twins are Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers and Mark Lanegan from Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age. Both have been known to battle addictions and often find themselves in difficult predicaments. Both wear primarily black, and shade their music accordingly. And both are so entrenched in their decadent, soul-writhing aesthetics, they’re incapable of a false move. Dulli’s the electric one, ready to marry an overdriven guitar to an air-raid siren and top it all off with a smoky come-on and a piercing wail, while Lanegan’s the acoustic blues singer who’s been down in the barren lands so long, nothing looks like up to him.

Throughout “Saturnalia,” the duo builds its murky, hedonistic haze with atmospheric instruments like a Mellotron, a Fender Rhodes, a harmonium—anything that can produce a death wheeze. Recorded in pieces in Arcadia, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, the album flows seamlessly as one long dark night of the soul. Songs like “The Stations,” “Circle the Fringes” and “Bête Noire” mesh into an intense suite of serious mumbling, exasperated growls and slinky rhythms that would evoke the Doors if they weren’t so corny by comparison. Your parents wouldn’t approve. But when was the last time you listened to your parents? 4 STARS—Tom O’Neill

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