The Builders and the Butchers' fifth album is largely influenced by the postapocalyptic literature of Cormac McCarthy, and it shows: Western Medicine is just as cheerless as The Road. But the Butchers have always been at their best when relating tales of a world gone aflame, and Medicine hardly deviates from the doom and gloom of the band's past efforts. The slow-burning opener, "Blood Runs Cold," and the banjo-burgeoning "Watching the World" squirm with the group's signature brooding despair. Other tracks, such as "The Snow" and "Pennies in the Well," carry the same weight amid a cannonade of western guitar and Morricone-style trumpet. Despite the dreariness, the commanding "Redemption Sound" and the honky-tonk closer, "Take Me Home," offer stirring relief in a dirty, gospel-like fashion, more apt for the aging saloons of Stephen King's Dark Tower novels than No Country for Old Men. Still, there's a certain beauty in darkness, and the Butchers play it well.
SEE IT: The Builders and the Butchers play Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Sons of Huns and River Giant, on Saturday, June 22. 9 pm. $15. 21+.