The Horror Honeys: American Murder Song’s 'The Donner Party' is a Damn Masterpiece

American Murder Song’s 'The Donner Party' is a Damn Masterpiece


A Horror Honey Exclusive First-Look Review with Musical Horror Honey Brittany

American Murder Song's 'The Donner Party' (2017)

Masters of musical horror Terrance Zdunich and Saar Hendelman are back with the latest installment in their American Murder Song project, titled The Donner Party. Evolving from their first series of EPs, which contained a variety of murder ballads telling individual stories, The Donner Party is the first of these albums that focus more centrally on one theme, the infamous doomed party of travelers that ended up eating each other to survive.

And frankly, the new album is amazing.

While the first few iterations of American Murder Song produced wonderful solo songs with incredible video elements, each piece was independent of the other. The Donner Party is a natural evolution of the project, utilizing multiple songs to fully encompass the legacy of the Donner Party’s plight.

The album opens with a burst of energy in “The Black Wagon," which riles up listeners to hop on board with the story about to be told. The opening notes will remind listeners of Zdunich and Hendelman’s previous work in The Devil’s Carnival, with their use of dissonant horns and unique sound effects. As the album progresses, Zdunich and Hendelman’s passion for mashing genres becomes increasingly apparent. From the first song to the second, “The Devil in Camp," the musical style changes completely, turning to funk-musical-rock from its initial carnival-like twang. The inability to predict exactly what will come up next makes The Donner Party unbelievably fun to listen to from start to finish.

The Donner Party also contains some beautifully crafted ballads, including “The Wind Cries Eleanor," hauntingly sung by Zdunich, as well as “The Last Americans." These songs are almost reminiscent of renowned musical The Threepenny Opera, with their intricate and captivating lyrics carefully spinning stunning visuals while invoking intrigue and unease.

As with their last albums, Zdunich and Hendelman will be taking The Donner Party on tour, providing audiences with an evening of gory storytelling, this time focused on telling the tale of these doomed travelers. As expert storytellers and performers, these evenings promise to be grisly as they are exciting.

With The Donner Party, Zdunich and Hendelman have truly removed any boundaries in writing this album, utilizing every instrument, sound, and style they deemed necessary to tell their tale. What has resulted is a glorious masterpiece that deserves a feature length film. Don’t wait to check it out, and be sure to continue to follow American Murder Song to see what else these brilliant guys have up their sleeves.

Musical Horror Honey Rating: 5 Wagon Wheels out of 5

Get your tickets for The Donner Party Reunion Tour