(5 out of 5)
Dax Riggs has followed a career trajectory that may be familiar to rockers who are, uh, of a certain age. There was the youth spent hammering out doomy aggression with seminal Louisana sludge-metallers Acid Bath, the transition into the rootsy freneticism of garage rock (Deadboy and Elephantmen), and now a solo career devoted to raw, atmospheric melancholy. However, while there may be more than a few folks you know who were into metal at a young age, garage rock later on, and, in their “maturity,” discovered the charms of rootsy blues and twang, few have entered this latter phase with as twisted a sense of exploration as Dax Riggs. With his second solo album, Riggs is again digging into a prolonged dark night of the soul, but somehow this new album is even more haunting than his last (IF THIS IS HELL THEN I’M LUCKY). While there are a couple of numbers here that lurch into something resembling upbeat rock ’n’ roll (“Gravedirt On My Blue Suede Shoes,” “Let Me Be Your Cigarette”), for the most part, SAY GOODNIGHT TO THE WORLD is a suite of songs dedicated to a raw and humid vision of dramatic darkness. One only needs to hear Riggs’ dirge-like take on “Heartbreak Hotel” – which manages to out-creepify even John Cale’s version – to get a crystal-clear take on just how much of a bummer this guy is riding. You’d think he’d stumbled upon the greatest album closer ever – the somber and nocturnal torching of “Like Moonlight” – but it hits only halfway through the album; somehow, Riggs ups the slow drama even further for the album’s real finale, a swampy, half-tempo croon called “See You All In Hell or New Orleans,” which not only sums up SAY GOODNIGHT TO THE WORLD perfectly, but also does a fine job of showing just how far the man has come in his artistic growth.
First appeared Aug. 3, 2010 at Shockhound.com.