His barbarous exorcism of Depression-era blues--with a bedrock of frantic flatpicking, foot stomps into a floor mike, and gutteral growls through a distortion mike--has made Biram a rising star in Austin.— No Depression
Something heavy is happening to Scott H. Biram. There he is, eyes rolling back in his head, arms outstretched, consumed with bliss, exhaustion, or guilt, being consigned to the old crimson river. In this moment, being baptized in blood might be Biram's dark epiphany, the 12 songs of Nothin' But Blood a conduit for an emotional fight or flight, relaying a deep personal grapple between the pure and the impure, good and bad, the beautiful dream and an ugly reality.
What in the past has been expressed through reeling irreverence and spirit-lifting profanity (which he's still got in spades; don't worry) is here a more penetrating, and chilling, version of The Dirty Old One Man Band-- self-examining and penitent, yet still as crazy as a jack-eyed preacher. On his ninth album (and fifth for Bloodshot Records) 'blood' is many, often inherently contradictory, themes: life, death, suffering, evil, commitment, legacy, atonement. Even in its title, 'Nothin' But' could mean 'all encompassing' or 'it's no big deal.' Literally, all or nothing.
There are songs where Biram -- the hard-living, whiskey-loving lifelong Texan -- howls of mortality ('When I Die'), sin ('Backdoor Man'), and guilt and frustration ('Slow & Easy'), all the while struggling with which side he'll end up on (and it probably ain't the one with golden halos and white wings). He deftly sews together a myriad of flawed everymancharacters: nostalgic, stoned veteran ('Nam Weed'); boozing, jealous lover ('Alcohol Blues'); and sadistic muses ('Church Point Girls').
The rousing Black Flag-meets-Son House boot-stomper 'Only Whiskey' punches a hole in the notion of temperance and rewrites the meaning of monogamy -- the story of a man so disillusioned with romance he reserves vice as his permanent bed partner. In 'Gotta Get to Heaven', fervent 'hallelujahs' allude to a youthful and impious Biram, who quit churchat 10 years-old but also found his life's calling when an African-American Baptist choir performed for his grade school.
Throughout Nothin' But Blood, recorded at Biram's home studio and Cacophony Studios in Austin, TX, SHB's distinct songwriting style encompasses his penchant for sludge metal and palm muting ('Around the Bend'), the raw sucker punch of punk rock ('Only Whiskey'), profound truths of sentimental acoustic blues and country ('Never Comin' Home'), the cleansing powers of gospel hymns and spiritual ballads ('When I Die'), and folk tales from the early 20th century (there has never been a more beautifully creepy and morosely slinky take on 'Jack of Diamonds').
When you boil it all down in a simmering cauldron, Nothin' But Blood is storytelling about wrongdoing and redemption. Scott H. Biram's music is from the soul, for the soul, of the soul -- and with this album, the spiritual buckshot lodges deeper than ever.
Scott H. Biram isn't a one-man band. He is THE one-man band
Quoth he: "My music is the bastard child of Punk, Blues, Country, Hillbilly, Bluegrass, Chain Gang, Metal, and Classic Rock." But don't let that fool you. Two-man bands like the Black Keys have made a lot of noise in the past few years, but Biram's got twice the cri de couer with half the personnel. He fearlessly preachs his gospel of blues, punk, country, metal and psychobilly to his congregation of metalheads,barflies, college professors and regular dudes via a pulpit that is just a stack of amps, a '59 hollow body Gibson and a stomp board.
The Clash did Combat Rock, Biram traffics in Combat Blues. Don't be fooled by the whiskey and chicken antics, SHB has become a pre-eminent bluesman for the 21st century; when he gets locked in, when that groove is hooked, there are few better pure country blues artists out there. It's alternately hypnotic and harrowing.
Biram will still the room with haunting and sparse West Texas blues and then it upside down, into a truck driver's mosh pit, part Sam Kinison, part GWAR and part Holy Ghost. Like he sez, it might be baptism, or it might be a murder.
His singing, yodeling, growling, leering and brash preachin' and hollerin' is accompanied by sloppy riffs and licks and pounding backbeat brought forth by his amplified left foot. The remainder of this one-man band consists of an unwieldy combination of beat-up amplifiers and old microphones strung together by a tangled mess of guitar cables.
Years of compulsive touring, along with a steady diet of down and dirty blues, rock, punk, country, and hillbilly have developed Scott H. Biram's signature concoction, attracting a hefty array of fans who dig the bizarre and twisted sides of the rock and roll spectrum. His live shows unleash a Lemmy-sized metal attitude, a stomping, pulsing John Lee Hooker-channeling, and cockeyed tales of black water baptisms and murder, all while romanticizing the on-the-road lifestyle.
Scott H. Biram won't die, either. On May 11th, 2003, one month after being hit head-on by an 18-wheeler at 75 MPH, he took the stage at The Continental Club in Austin, TX in a wheel chair--I.V. still dangling from his arm. With 2 broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and 1 foot less of his lower intestine, Biram unleashed his trademark musical wrath. When, less than a year later, Scott H. Biram took the stage at his 2004 SXSW festival showcase right after Kris Kristofferson he was quoted as growling "They said that was a hard act to follow... I'm a hard act to follow, motherfuckers!!" The stunned crowd looked on.
And the legend grows.
Official Website: Scott H. Biram Online