Austin's notorious one-man band returns with equal measures of gospel and Gomorrah on his eighth LP, Nothin' but Blood. Delivering a motormouth baptismal rap on "Gotta Get to Heaven" and the Christ-conjuring country choir of "When I Die" on the same saturated platter as piss-drunk altercation "Only Whiskey" and an especially horny adaption of Mance Lipscomb's "Alcohol Blues," Scott H. Biram both rages and reflects. Such angel/devil duality remains a hallmark for the local bluesman, who also offers intimate acoustic ballads like "Slow & Easy" and "Never Comin' Home" that let you walk a mile in his roadworn Velcro loafers. A joyride of country runs, supercharged thrash riffs, and distorted blues licks that would make R.L. Burnside slap his thigh, the disc also boasts Biram's finest guitar work, exemplified on blues/metal/bluegrass instrumental "Around the Bend" and a brilliantly spooky take on Texas slide standard "Jack of Diamonds," where you can hear evil spirits rising from the F-holes of his well-traveled Gibson. Though it lacks a masterstroke, offering nothing as triumphant as "Victory Song" or as heart-wrenching as "Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue" from 2009's Something's Wrong/Lost Forever, this may be Biram's sturdiest collection of songs since 2006 peak Graveyard Shift. Capturing the anything-goes spirit of his hell-raising live performance, Nothin' but Blood opens a vein.
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