The hard rock blast of Get Ready For Love with its tempo variation opens Abbatoir Blues. Cannibal's Hymn is a slow but intense rock ballad and is followed by the somewhat messy but equally powerful Hiding All Away. The music but not the lyrics, lightens up with the subdued love song Messiah Ward. There She Goes My Beautiful World with its disturbing imagery and edgy rhythmic patterns is a tour de force.
Nature Boy, a driving rock song with a beautiful melody and poetic lyrics, is one of the highlights. The mid-tempo track Let The Bells Ring is another track with a nervous beat and a lovely chorus. This CD concludes with Fable Of The Brown Ape, a slow number with a complex arrangement. Abattoir Blues contains mostly harder rock songs that sound messy at first listen but make sense after repeated spins. Perhaps it could be considered as Nick Cave's own Exile On Main Street.
More melodious, the Orpheus CD has a gentler overall sound and more immediately memorable compositions. The title track is a long story song in a bluesy vein. It is followed by the tuneful Breathless, an exquisitely beautiful love song which is one of my favourites. The atmospheric Babe You Turn Me On is another tender ballad with a gorgeous melody. After the meandering interlude of Easy Money comes the uptempo rock of Supernaturally that becomes quite rousing in the chorus.
The subdued song Spell has a dreamy quality as has the next one, Carry Me, with its moving spiritual undertone. The Orpheus CD concludes with O Children, a ruminative song with a gospel feel. This double album is an impressive showcase of Cave's multifaceted talents. Rock fans will prefer Abattoir Blues but I find the contemplative Orpheus more appealing. More precise rating: Four and a half stars.