Murder by Death shook the Metro on Saturday night as the Indiana quintet arrived in support of their new album The Other Shore, a conceptual work about survivors in an apocalypse trying to find each other in space.
At times, the record feels like a love story, and at other times, it projects a doom-laden sense of catastrophe; both live and on record, vocalist/guitarist Adam Turla conveys both with an equal sense of melancholy and earnest. Show/album opener “Alas” set the tone immediately, the crowd already in full-stomp in unison with Turla’s chants of “alas, I must go,” eliciting a smirk from cellist Sarah Balliet. Attacking her cello like a ukulele at times and providing an understated rhythm at others, Balliet is a large part of what gives MBD such a unique sound; their particular brand of gothic indie-folk is given a melodic depth by Baillet’s chops that other bands should envy. Low-key entries like “Foxglove” and Shore favorite “Stone” (which saw its live debut at Metro) avoided typical balladeer territory thanks to keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist David Fountain’s occasional forays into trumpet and lap steel guitar, along with Turla’s measured delivery.
The balance between reflective selections that dripped with atmosphere and singalong moments like “The Curse of Elkhart” and 2006 single “Brother” was strong throughout, and while there wasn’t an overarching theme to the evening, Murder by Death’s music follows a conceptual framework often enough that the show felt oddly theatrical, in the best possible way.