Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus is the 13th studio album released by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It is a double CD, with 17 songs (9 on Abattoir Blues and 8 on The Lyre of Orpheus), and was released on the 20th of September 2004.
The double album was recorded by Nick Launay at Studio Ferber in Paris in Spring 2004 by The Bad Seeds line up of Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, Thomas Wydler, Martyn Casey, Conway Savage, Jim Sclavunos, Warren Ellis, and James Johnston. It was the first album by the band in which Blixa Bargeld did not take part. Cave decided to split drumming duties for the two albums, having Wydler and Sclavunos drum on each CD.
Its release was shortly followed by the Abattoir Blues Tour, which took place around Europe between the 3rd of November and the 5th of December 2004.
We stand awed inside a clearing.
We do not make a sound.
The crimson snow falls all about,
carpeting the ground.
Easy Money is a version of Orpheus' bargain with Hades, with heavy emphasis on the theme of the ease of getting what you want, as long as you are prepared to pay the price. Supernaturally could cover several bases, interpreted as both the protagonist's drive to rescue his wife, and as a lament for his failure to do so.
Spell is about the doubt slowly taking over Orpheus as he ascends the stairs out of hell - about his uncertainty regarding Hades' intentions to honour their bargain - and about the final confused moments before his climactic turn—
I call you by your name, I know not where you are.
Carry Me is the album's climax, the point at which Orpheus turns to look upon Eurydice, breaking his bargain with Hades, and condemning her to being pulled back into the underworld. The song could almost be described as a duet from one mouth, the chorus (possibly from Eurydice's point of view) asking Orpheus to either give in to his doubt or stick to his word -
Turn to me, turn to me, turn to me
Turn to me and drink of me
Or look away, look away,
look away and never more think of me
Orpheus also speaks of -
The many voices
Speaking to me from the depths below
This ancient wound
Beneath the whited snow
In the end, of course, he turns, and she is carried away.
O Children, the album's coda, describes the grief of Orpheus, and his death by his own hand, as well as a plea to be forgiven for his sins and to be allowed into heaven.