Last year I had the opportunity to see the musical collaboration between Terrance Zdunich (Repo! The Genetic Opera) and Saar Hendelman (The Devil’s Carnival franchise) in their performance of AMERICAN MURDER SONG, a collection of murder ballads set in America during 1816. The duo traveled throughout America putting on live performances that incorporated original songs along with music videos, narrations, stop-motion animation and more. Now, a year later, Zdunich and Hendelman have returned with a new album, THE DONNER PARTY, and tour announcement, THE DONNER PARTY REUNION TOUR.
I had the chance to listen to the newest album and I have to say I was blown away. Having been fascinated with The Donner Party at a young age, I was intrigued with what Zdunich and Hendelman would do to bring this true story of cannibalism to life; and rest assured, I was not even close to being disappointed. The album centers around the infamous Donner Party excursion and the devastating results that transpired. Though the events are grisly and bloody, Zdunich and Hendelman were able to still make the majority of the music’s theme light-hearted and fun. With that said, there are a few songs on the track list that conjure up a more sobering tone that can easily strike sadness into the heart.
What makes this album so successful though is the combination of both Zdunich and Hendelman’s talent. Zdunich, who has a more low-pitched voice complements that of Hendleman, who has a more soprano voice, perfectly and seamlessly. The singing is interwoven with instruments and musical sounds that emulate what I can only imagine would be the music of the mid 1800’s. Whether it be the strumming of a guitar or the beautiful, soothing notes from a flute, the music transports the listener to a time period that they have only heard stories about.
Lest not forget that when Zdunich and Hendelman perform, they are not the people we are used to. Instead, they have given themselves a pseudonym, with Terrance taking on the character of Mister Tender and Hendelman taking on the character of Mister Storm. It is once they have transformed into their characters that the music really does come alive and the story behind each song unfolds. I know I’m specifically speaking about THE DONNER PARTY album, but I can’t stress enough how amazing it is to see their performance live. If it’s anything like their AMERICAN MURDER SONG tour, than audiences are going to be in for quite a treat.
Overall, THE DONNER PARTY album is an absolute masterpiece. I loved AMERICAN MURDER SONG‘s EP albums, but there is something about THE DONNER PARTY that just stays with me. Zdunich and Hendelman’s voices are seductive and enticing, making those who listen to their music become instantly swept up. My favorite tracks from the album are “The Wind Weeps Eleanor”, “The Cry of the Banished Horseman”, and “The Last Americans” which all have a darker tone to them. THE DONNER PARTY REUNION TOUR kicks off in Phoenix, AZ on Oct. 2nd and will be traveling throughout the country all through the month of October and part of November. So make haste and get your tickets and order the album before it’s too late and remember….come hungry….
For more information on THE DONNER PARTY visit www.americanmurdersong.com.