by John Tarpley
While "Murder by Death" may look uniform on an "upcoming bands" schedule for the local metal venue, the actual Murder by Death sound is a far cry from the shrieking and shredding that usually fills the downtown space. Instead, the orchestral five-piece is a provocative blend of Nick Cave's gothic south and Wolf Parade's dynamic indie rock muddled with a dash of Drive-In Truckers' taste for epic narratives. But what sets the band apart from its noir-fuelled peers is a reluctance to sound like a caricatured pastiche of the South. There's a healthy bit of tense, Cormac McCarthy-esque brooding flowing through the sound, desperate but controlled. Yup, constraint is the key that makes Murder by Death good music for bad moods. The band is joined by long-time Times favorite, Samantha Crain. For years, the pint-sized Oklahoman has churned out dusty, rollicking tunes with magical realism in one pocket and a copy of "Tobacco Road" in the other. Ninja Gun, a harmonic, heavy-roots trio from Georgia, open the night.