It's been 16 years since the last Afghan Whigs album, and the band doesn’t gently ease back: “Do to the Beast” kicks off with the heavy grunt of “Parked Outside” as singer Greg Dulli snarls like a trapped animal. It’s a powerful and misleading reintroduction, since the Whigs seem only capable of reclaiming their turf in fits and starts. “Matamoros” is snaky and relentless, the low-key “These Sticks” throbs tensely, and the cinematic “Royal Cream” constantly catches its breath before leaping back to bite again. But those songs lurch so forcefully into focus precisely because far more of “Do to the Beast” is forced drama or, worse, Kings of Leonine busyness like “The Lottery.” Throughout, Dulli effortlessly inhabits the skin of a man providing a thousand reasons not to go home with him at closing time. (The album’s last line? “I’ve come to make you pay.”) The difference is that back in the Whigs’ prime, you would’ve gone anyway. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Royal Cream”
The Afghan Whigs are at the Paradise May 16.