With guitarist/keyboardist Roland Wolf and Cramps/Gun Club veteran Kid Congo Powers on guitar added to the ranks, along with guest appearances from old member Hugo Race, the Seeds reached 1988 with their strongest album yet, the insanely powerful, gripping Tender Prey. Rather than simply redoing what they'd already done, Nick Cave and company took their striking musical fusions to deeper and higher levels all around, with fantastic consequences. The album boldly starts out with an undisputed Cave masterpiece -- ""The Mercy Seat,"" a chilling self-portrait of a prisoner about to be executed that compares the electric chair with the throne of God. Queasy strings from a Gini Ball-led trio and Mick Harvey's spectral piano snake through a rising roar of electric sound -- a common musical approach from many earlier Seeds songs, but never so gut-wrenching as here. Cave's own performance is the perfect icing on the cake, commanding and powerful, excellently capturing the blend of crazed fear and righteousness in the lyrics. Matching that high point turns out to be impossible for anything else on Tender Prey, but more than enough highlights take a bow that demonstrates the album's general quality. ""Deanna"" is another great blast from the Seeds, a garage rock-style rave-up that lyrically is everything Natural Born Killers tried to be, but failed at -- killing sprees, Cadillacs, and carrying out the work of the Lord, however atypically. The echoing, gentle-yet-rough sonics on the Blind Willie Johnson-inspired ""City of Refuge"" and the gentler drama of ""Sugar Sugar Sugar"" also do well in keeping the energy level up. On the quieter side, Cave indulges his penchant for gloomy piano-led ballads throughout, and quite well at that, with such songs as ""Watching Alice,"" ""Mercy,"" and the end-of-the-evening singalong ""New Morning."" ""Sunday's Slave"" has a beautifully brooding feeling to it thanks to the combination of acoustic guitar and piano, making it a bit of a cousin of Scott Walker's ""Seventh Seal.""