Murder by Death’s third album, In Bocca Al Lupo, doesn’t stray far from their signature style – a raucous mix of hard rock and Frontier Saloon attitude. In Bocca Al Lupo paints a picture of a Western town where the inevitability of an early death is compounded by the temptations of liquor and women. This album falls short in terms cohesiveness when compared to Murder by Death’s second LP, Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left Of Them, but still manages to give the listener a sense that the songs work together to tell a story. The glaring exception on this album is “Dead Men and Sinners,” a song about a shipwreck and its survivors. Overall, the album does a passable job of telling the story of life and death in the Wild West.
The album begins by introducing the audience to a town rife with trouble and death. “One More Notch” is an ominous warning that death is looming on the horizon. “Brother” is the one track that stands out the most on this album. It’s a catchy song about the relationship between two estranged brothers, one of whom is on the run from the law.
By the halfway point, the album takes a somber turn. “Sometimes The Line Walks You” describes the events leading up to imprisonment and the ensuing escape attempt. “The Big Sleep” and “Shiola” tell the remorseful tale of a man sentenced to death and his final minutes with his family. The final two tracks feel rather forced and uninspired when compared to the rest of the album, leaving the listening to wonder whether the album would be better off without them.
Despite its disjointed start, In Bocca Al Lupo manages to recover from a few sub-par songs and to deliver a solid listening experience for anyone looking for an album that weaves an interesting story and has a sound and style all its own.