Local band Marriage packaged it's 2005 release squeezed between two pieces of rugged plywood fasted by a nut and bolt. Three years later, II comes sewn into a quilted envelope. Side by side, it's easy to think of the two records as complimentary husband and wife incarnations of the same band. The softer presentation this time around is a fitting representation of Marriage's new direction. Gone are the discordant sludge metal assaults of the previous release. II is decisively more melodic, although Josh Wootton's vocals remain heavy, fierce and coarse. This time his dark almost Tom Waits-like growl is backed by antique piano notes and delicate acoustic guitars. On the track 'The Deceitful Heart,' he even ventures briefly into falsetto range. Still, there is something enticingly uneasy about this record. There is a constant tension between Brent Blalock's serene rhythms and Wootton's harsh howl, like a domesticated Viking going through anger management, trying to contain and compress his fury through an unfamiliar medium. Despite the menacing vocal tones, there is no real rage in Wootton's lyrics; rather, Marriage is fueled by a formidable Christian spirituality. As with the 2005 release, there is a Bible verse inscribed within the liner notes, and the lyrics on the record speak clearly of faith and devotion. The sacred subject matter takes these tunes to yet another level, adding a sense of weight and imposing importance. Marriage will likely push listeners outside of their usual comfort zone, and that edgy albeit awkward state is delightfully refreshing. After you find a sharp pair of scissors to get into this record (literally), prepare to be challenged and rewarded. Michelle Gilzenrat-flagpole magazine.
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