“I find no interest in the methodical stabilities of the sane/For I delight in the shadowy corners of unhinged thought, eating up my bad brains.”
That deranged passage from the tellingly titled “Prophet Incarnate” off his new album, the even more descriptively dubbed Revelations of a Mind Unraveling adequately illustrates the fearsome rampage that’s Lincoln Durham’s stock and trade. “I see rage and fire and brimstone,” he rails, and given the steady thump of his melodies and his fierce prognostications, he may be understating the case at that. Then there’s this from “Noose”: “White dove sitting in a cage/Choking on the olive branch and waiting for his chance to unleash his cooped rage.”
Clearly, this is one dissatisfied soul.
Suggesting an unholy alliance between Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Robert Plant as they share cause for their edge and agitation, Lincoln Durham excises his demons, his anger and his frustrations. On songs like “Rusty Knife” and “Suffer My Name” he growls and moans like a man possessed, all against an archaic backdrop of ragged instrumentation — stroked banjos, battered guitars and pounding homegrown percussion. It’s not pretty — it’s not even cohesive — but the sheer wallop and unrestrained wrath make a formidable impression. This is a man to be reckoned with, his spit and sass notwithstanding.
When applied in equal measure, darkness and defiance can make for a powerful brew, and Durham seems intent on carrying that combination to the most ragged extremes. It’s intimidating to say the least — scary as way to sum it all up — but in truth, Durham’s psychotic revelations are somewhat akin to watching the most grotesque freak show imaginable, and then coming away with a weird sense of wonder. Durham’s torment must come from a particularly painful place, but his ability to share and express that distinguishes him in the most unlikely kind of way. If Edgar Allen Poe were alive today, he’d probably give this young rabble rouser an enthusiastic high five.