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NIck Cave & Warren Ellis-CARNAGE REVIEW

Written Before Listen

Nick Cave, the Australian singer, songwriter and lyricist is someone who I know of and listened to but I’ve never gotten the chance to get exposed to him correctly. I know of his influence and for example, I alluded to Isaac Wood from Black Country New Road having a similar vocal delivery to Cave. His influence carried on and will continue to. On the other hand, I can’t really think of a Nick Cave song in the top of my head. On the other hand, Warren Ellis is a multi-instrumentalist that has worked with Nick Cave multiple times because he is a member of Nick Caves band, the Bad Seeds. In exclusion to that, he has worked with Nick Cave for numerous film scores and soundtracks. In 2021, they decided to leave the film scores aside and actually work on a project together. All inspired by Nick and Warren with no film to back it. I am going into this album with somewhat lukewarm expectations because I don’t really know what Nick Cave is up to nowadays and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is just another album that a veteran releases that comes out only ok. With that being said, I hope I’m proved wrong.


Personally, what I think makes the music of Nick Cave so unique is his top-level songwriting. This album is no exception. We have a song like “Hand Of God” which he tells a story of a man going in the middle of the river sacrificing his life just to find god. Thats a good topic itself but the imagery of little boys throwing pennies for the peasants at the bottom of the lake showcase Nick’s personality and talent real well. “Old Time” talks about going to the woods and seeing the views of the “Old Time”. “White Elephant” is arguably one of the best songs about the George Floyd protests. Literally. Listen for yourself. He also is able to take everyday song topics and make it his own with songs like “Lavender Fields” and “Shattered ground” and create something completely new and innovative with it. I always liked Nick Cave’s songwriting from what I’ve heard from him but this is a new level of talent.


So as a collaborative album, there is some unique chemistry between the two musicians. Nick Cave’s songwriting on this record Is vivd and abstract and it merges with Ellis’ spacy and atmospheric production in a unique way. It’s something that I didn’t expect at all when thinking about the previous Nick Cave albums I’ve listened to. I knew Nick Cave to be this dark, vivid and abstract songwriter that is backed by instrumentation complimenting its darkness. This time, the lyrics are more modern, more common but with a Cave twist. In a weird way, the Warren Ellis production compliments it in a cool way.

Vocal Performance

Nick Caves vocals have always intrigued me when I was listening to them. His voice always had a lot of passion in it. This time around, he takes a vast amount of influence from the one and only Scott Walker with songs like “Hand Of God”, “Carnage” and “Shattered Ground”. Sure he brings his own Nick Cave-isms in his lyrics and experience but the Scott Walker influence is pretty clear. It’s not a bad thing at all. I think the way he approaches it is really unique and not just the way that people usually take Scott Walker influences. He takes Scott Walkers ability to compliment his baroque instrumentation and take it with Ellis’ synth backing. Its a very beautiful combination to say the least.


On the Warren Ellis side of things, he creates an atmospheric backdrop for Cave’s emotionally driven and serious lyrics. Warren Ellis seems to understand Nick Cave’s passionate side and creates an instrumental backing with ambient synthesizers, dramatic pianos and orchestral arrangements. On the other hand, some of these minimal backings could dilute the track a little bit. Sometimes the instrumentals don’t really have any life. I think the new age vibe and feel does compliment Cave but only somewhat.


Overall, I enjoyed this record. It doesn’t mean it comes with some weaknesses. Just like I said in instrumentation, Ellis’ production sometimes comes out a little dull at points. Songs like “Albuquerque” and “Lavender Flowers” can come off pretty boring if you are listening to it without any focus. A lot of the ideas instrumentally also become redundant. There is a dramatic sounding piano in the majority track. I’m pretty sure if you load up preset 21 and preset 30 on the Yamaha DX7, you get half of “Shattered Grounds”. Luckily, those are only some minor flaws and it doesn’t take away the listening experience away that much.


I enjoyed this record quite a bit. Honestly, I’ve never listened to a Nick Cave record and loved it but this is honestly one of my favorite records of his. Its spacy, vivid and dangerously surreal. If you’re a fan of Nick Caves previous work, I highly recommend you give this record a listen. It might not be something I love but you might like it more than I do.


1 Comment

Yo you real deal got a lot of reviews.

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