Boduf Songs How Shadows Chase the Balance

When Kranky describes Boduf Songs as "acoustic death metal,” the label isn’t kidding. How Shadows Chase the Balance, the second full-length by English songwriter Mat Sweet, is as black as they come, with crawling folk songs drenched in a stew of fire, brimstone and, of course, blood. It’s a downer parade for sure, fitting the bill of "sad guy with a guitar” to a T. But lurking there in the darkness is also a lot of unexpected beauty and even some downright melodic pop. In fact, with Sweet’s whispering, close-mic-ed delivery, much of the album comes off sounding like Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans made by a Satanist, with all that parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme wilted and dying. You can especially hear this on Boduf Songs’ banjo-led "Things Not to Be Done on the Sabbath” and "Quiet When Group,” two of album’s obvious highlights, as well as the year’s. Yes, How Shadows Chase the Balance is in love with the gloom but rarely does despair sound this sweet. (Kranky)