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Preview: Earth and The Afghan Whigs 

Noah Bonaparte Pais on two big rock shows coming to New Orleans this week

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It's nitpicking, but the rock gods got the order of this preternatural, purgatorial double feature wrong: In heaven, as it is on Ani DiFranco albums, the hedonistic reveling of an Afghan Whigs (pictured) reunion comes before the inevitable reckoning of Earth, not after. Or maybe God passed altogether on this match made in hell, Greg Dulli's twilight sinners having their long-awaited come-to-Satan at the sludgy cracks of Dylan Carlson's Judgement Day gavel. How fitting, then, that when a bailiff rises all on "There is a Serpent Coming" — the second song on the practically eponymous Primitive and Deadly (Southern Lord), and the first vocals to grace an Earth record in 18 years — it's none other than Mark Lanegan, Dulli's shadow in the Twilight Singers and dark side personified on the Gutter Twins' post-Hurricane Katrina curfew break, Saturnalia.

  "I see a beast is coming," Lanegan intones, in his stone-faced baritone, on "Serpent," staring down Carlson's six-string Medusa. Is that a wink at his longtime friend, whose 16-year Afghan Whigs hiatus ended with the April release Do to the Beast (Sub Pop)? Airs of conspiracy and confession choke Dulli, too, as he wavers between his heaviest and lightest impulses, the metallic attack of opener "Parked Outside" and strange-brew decay of "Algiers." "Let it be light, baby/ Where there's none," he sings on "The Lottery," reversing it for the second verse: "Let it be night, lady/ Watch them run." In Dulli's heaven, as it is on Earth albums, he is both angel of darkness and demon of light. King Dude opens for Earth. Tickets $14. Joseph Arthur and King James and the Special Men open for The Afghan Whigs. Tickets $30.


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