With the precise distances unknown, we're going to guess that the gutter is closer to hell than it is to heaven. Or maybe it's just the intersection between the two.
It certainly sounds that way on "Saturnalia," the new album by the Gutter Twins, the first full-length collaboration by titanic modern-rock talents Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan. (Each has worked on the other's projects over the years.) The pair, both recovering addicts, have come within shouting distance of the darkness and report on sin and salvation with compelling grace and power both on record and in concert.
Tuesday night at the Paradise Rock Club, backed by a whip-smart five-piece band, the best friends and former roommates were a study in opposites as they delved into their new album, tunes from Dulli's Twilight Singers' releases and Lanegan's solo records.
Dulli is the classic outsize frontman. One minute the former Afghan Whigs singer was exorcising his demons on churning, electric noir tracks like "God's Children" and "Front Street" with a cracked, soul-infused howl. The next he was needling the audience. "If you don't get your hands up, we'll play Providence next time!"
The stoic Lanegan, late of the Screaming Trees, on the other hand, stood stock still, gripping his microphone stand and opening his mouth only to loose his rumbling, hellhound-on-my-trail baritone on songs such as "Seven Stories Underground." (At the show's end, Dulli quipped, "I think he thanks you for coming," as Lanegan beat a hasty retreat before the final note.)
The combination worked beautifully as the two singers' voices complemented each other in a dark tango. They meshed and butted up against each other in equal measure over a spider web of slide guitars, mellotron, and pounding beats that made shaking the hand of Lucifer in "King Only" sound equally alluring and terrifying.
LA quartet Great Northern opened with a swirling set of psychedelia-tinged indie rock.