Abattoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus - Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. A fragrant bouquet of melody, light, love and naughtiness wrapped in an unfamiliar joie de vivre.
  2. It would be foolish, however, to think that you could get through a Nick Cave project this ambitious without a few clunkers. At least here Cave's missteps occur when his reach exceeds his grasp, and the songs that fail manage to do so dramatically rather than boringly. [average of scores of 78 for 'Abattoir' and 74 for 'Orpheus']
  3. In truth, a couple tracks could have been cut to turn this into an epic single-disc release of huge proportions, but it's still the best work that Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds have done since Murder Ballads.
  4. And with so much music, some cuts solidly fail, and some stand up to the best in the Bad Seeds canon.
  5. It’s easy to get over-eager about a decent album that appears after some significantly less magnificent efforts, and perhaps that’s precisely what I’ve just done. But I don’t especially care. What I hear throughout this release, and what I’m latching so strongly onto, is my own imagined version of what a Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds record should be like.
  6. An entirely unique return to form.
  7. As a word of warning, though, this brilliant, but lengthy double album may not be the best beginner's guide to Nick Cave. However, for anyone who is a fan of the duration of his career, this album rewards the listener with a bit of the best of everything he has to offer.
  8. 'Abattoir Blues' is weirdly full of wonderment, and - get this - 'The Lyre of Orpheus' is even more joyful! And they both kick Nocturama's arse full of buttonholes.
  9. An aesthetic watermark for Cave, a true high point in a long career that is ever looking forward.
  10. While the first offering holds a quite tangible anger and general gloom within, 'The Lyre of Orpheus is a much more mellow affair, contemplating existentialism and the like.
  11. Cave's songwriting chops and incisive lyrics have, if anything, grown stronger.
  12. Aside from the power of the music and lyrics, the set draws on Cave’s compelling persona: part priest, part sideshow barker--crooning one moment and eviscerating the next. While this has always been the core of his talent, on Abattoir/Lyre it is particularly rich and rewarding.
  13. The Orpheus disc is quieter, and Blues is slightly more lewd, but taken together this may be the scariest album about panties, gorillas and bloody gods ever recorded.
  14. Unsurprisingly, Cave's overriding thematic goal of reconciling morality with desire on Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus falls short of its mark. But with such a complex and difficult target, that's to be expected.
  15. 100
    He gets all beautiful on your ass for the Orpheus portion of this double-disc set, then explodes with a pounding intensity on Abattoir Blues that'll knock your socks off.
  16. So fresh, so revelatory, so alive.
  17. The Bad Seeds have not made a record this ambitious, well, ever, and the results are rewarding, thoughtful and challenging.
  18. Abattoir/Orpheus is not as immediate as some of Cave's previous triumphs, but you'll take pleasure in unearthing new sentiments and innuendo within its walls.
  19. There's hardly any drop in quality over the discs' 17 tracks, and Cave maintains his ability to startle.
  20. Cave has hinted at a more mature sound on the last few records; here, it comes across in richer, bolder arrangements, the result of his band's more active role in developing the songs.
  21. This is murderously good stuff. [25 Sep 2004, p.64]
  22. Feels much like a natural extension of 2001's No More Shall We Part and the emotional urgency found there. [#7; average of scores of 60 for 'Abattoir' and 70 for 'Orpheus']
  23. 100
    The scope and breadth is startling. [Oct 2004, p.94]
  24. Two masterpieces. [Dec 2004, p.158]
  25. 80
    The kind of boiling, roiling blues the Bad Seeds haven't cooked up in years. [Nov 2004, p.131]
  26. Both [discs] are full of surprises. [Oct 2004, p.115]
  27. 82
    This is not Cave's best work by any means, but these songs do showcase his impressive range as a lyricist, performer and musician. [#12, p.100]
  28. Cave... remains a singular sensation. [29 Oct 2004, p.69]
  29. 75
    The Lyre Of Orpheus is effectively Abattoir spillover: more mellow, less grand in conception, but--somehow--more pretentious in execution. [Dec 2004, p.118]
  30. In many ways this is his finest outing since The Boatman's Call. [#247, p.55]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 23
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 23
  3. Negative: 1 out of 23
  1. Jul 11, 2013
    Overall an amazing album, although it does veer into dangerously adult-contemporary territory on the second disc. I did find myself bored at times, although the aggressive goth songs and Cave's amazing songwriting kept me hanging on. Full Review »
  2. Aug 27, 2010
    Following a two-album string of letdown records, Cave waters his Bad Seeds and here they are in full bloom. Impressive, back-to-basics and no less zealous than his former work, Cave delivers something uniquely beautiful that only he can deliver in its purest form. Full Review »
  3. madsl
    Mar 10, 2007
    abbatoir blues is a partial return to form for cave after a series of dreadfully bland albums. It's just a shame that the antiseptic production threatens to kill the otherwise inspirational songwriting. The Lyre of Orpheus is cave doing what he has done lately - therefore I don't like it, but it is a notch better than nocturama/no more shall we part - both albums which I strongly recommend music lovers should shy away from..! Full Review »