Dusted Reviews

Entrance - Prayer For Death

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Entrance

Album: Prayer For Death

Label: Tee Pee

Review date: Nov. 21, 2006

To the hallowed triad of sex, drugs and rock and roll, we should maybe add a fourth: death. Like the other three, death has certainly been a source of innumerable song lyrics and the intoxicant of choice for mystics, bluesmen, rockers, folk singers and assorted other scruffy geniuses. It's certainly Guy Blakeslee's drug this time out. Prayer of Death, as its title implies, doesn't just face the great inevitable, it embraces it, celebrates it, psychedelicizes it, becomes giddy on its poison fumes. "I want to die without no fear / I want to die rejoicing," he sings on the title track, perhaps the most gospel and straightforward blues number here, and he's not kidding. He really is happy about the whole idea.

What makes all this morbidity even more disturbing is that it's wrapped in a particularly ecstatic form of electric blues, the sort of thing that you'd expect from T. Rex maybe, or the Paul Butterfield Band. Blakeslee has more or less ditched the acoustic porch blues for swirling, sitar- and violin-embellished gypsy dances. "Grim Reaper Blues," has an inexorable groove to it, its crazy, bent guitar notes pinging and caroming off an unmistakeably joyous beat. "Oooohhhh, grim reaper / He's a friend of mine," wails Blakeslee like he's just spotted his best buddy from high school. He likes the guy with the scythe and the hood; they go way back.

Prayer of Death is a denser, more rock-driven album than anything that Blakeslee has done in the past, thanks largely to collaborators Paz Lenchantin of A Perfect Circle and Derek James. You can hear the difference most clearly in "Valium Blues," which also appeared on his first album The Kingdom of Heaven Must be Taken By Storm. On that debut, Blakeslee propelled the song with frantically strummed acoustic guitar. Here it gets an extra push from manic, soul-procession drumming (that's James) and wild swoops of violin (Lenchantin). It's louder, more enveloping and intoxicating, a whirling dance with death rather than a lament.

Blakeslee has dedicated two songs here to personal heros, "Grim Reaper Blues" to Delta bluesman Charley Patton and "Requiem for Sandy Bull (R.I.P.)" to the electric guitar/oud innovator. The Bull tribute, an instrumental, is particularly affecting, a sinuous run of sitar notes circling ritual drums and tambourine. But what's even more interesting is how he combines the two sources of inspiration in other cuts, bits of Middle Eastern percussion and tunings emerging from blues progressions, Mississippi slides embedded in the psychedelic drones.

The disc's penultimate track is its wildest and most frightening. "Lost in the Dark" crashes and drones through more than eight minutes of turmoil, its lurching beat a foil for Blakeslee's musings on a love/hate relationship with the great hereafter. "Do you wish you was one of the lucky ones who could disappear / Like you were never here?" he hisses into the microphone. I almost caught myself saying "yes."

The CD booklet is funeral-obsessed as well, embellished with quotes from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a long list of deceased luminaries in the credits. It closes with a quote from James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, as good a summary of Blakeslee's philosophical obsessions as can be made, so I'll quote it in full:

"Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have."

Obviously, no one can accuse Blakeslee of denying the fact of death…and if you want to start getting in touch with your own inner corpse, Prayer of Death is a very good place to start.

By Jennifer Kelly

Read More

View all articles by Jennifer Kelly

Find out more about Tee Pee

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.