Death, "III" (Drag City)
Feverish and socially conscious, the final set of Death's 1970s recordings affirms why they rose from the ashes and gained an audience after debuting in 2009.
"III," the Detroit-based sibling trio's third album, is their grooviest collection yet. It comes after the label Drag City released the group's stylistic hard rock album recorded in 1974, "...For the Whole World to See," in 2009. "Spiritual, Mental, Physical" followed in 2011.
On "III," the Hackney brothers have mellowed the thrashing, though the hard and fast still dominates when they muse on the grimy "North Street." But they have more funk, soul and psychedelic sounds on the latest effort, which includes songs recorded in 1975, 1976, 1980 and 1992.
Guitarist David — who died of lung cancer in 2000 — paces himself on the intro, an instrumental simply titled "Introduction by David" (vocalist Bobby and drummer Dannis round out the trio). David's eerie, bewitching riffs begin steady, but after a lengthy pause, irrupt in a wash of lavish, hurried reverb.
Leading with a line of spoken word, "We Are Only People" is a spaced out trip that slowly reaches a jamming rock climax. It's the most satisfying moment next to the bluesy "Open Road," which offers a funky bent rhythm chopped by pregnant pauses.
Two of the nine songs were recorded at Groovesville studio in Detroit, while most of the others were cataloged at the trio's home. Due to the poor recording quality, the vocals sound distant and muffled on a few tracks, but their tight progressions never falter.