Philip H. Anselmo has returned. And along with his band mates in The Illegals, he has never sounded more intense. There are those that upon hearing this album have instantly tried to compare this record to Anselmo’s work with Pantera, Down, and Superjoint Ritual. Here’s the thing. Anselmo’s solo debut is nothing like the work that he did with those bands. He even noted in an interview concerning the record that he wanted to do something completely different. Go figure, the opening number on this record is titled, ‘Music Media Is My Whore.’ And the very fact that the album’s title is Walk Through Exits Only should tell listeners right off the bat that he intended to do something completely different than he had previously done on this record. That would seem to be the point of the album’s title at least.
Those that can let themselves get past the expectations of this album being more of what he has done before will appreciate it for what it is. It is a record that mixes elements of death metal and grindcore to make a work that simply put, is brutal. While it only consists of eight tracks, all eight songs on this album are sure to impress those that are open minded enough to accept them. Drummer Jose Manuel Gonzalez manages his duties with the power and precision of a jackhammer. And guitarist Marzi Montazeri is just as sharp whether soloing or playing his role as guitarist. The only comparison that can possibly be made to that of Montazeri here is Slipknot guitarist Mick Thompson (#6). On a side note, it would be interesting to hear the two perform or record together. Along with bassist Bennett Bartley, the quartet’s metal onslaught is complete throughout the course of the album’s eight tracks.
The musical side of Walk Through Exits Only is certain to impress those that are open minded enough to accept Anselmo’s new project for the departure that it is. The time signatures are all over the map. There are straight speed metal songs placed alongside more technical pieces. A prime example of this is the placement of ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ being bookended by ‘Betrayed’ and the album’s title track. ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ is one of the album’s more technical songs. It helps to break up the momentum of the other pairing of songs, keeping listeners’ ears much more easily. The other songs have more of a thrash/speed metal vibe that is certain to make any purist metal head proud. This is just one of a handful of examples that runs through the album’s sequencing. Audiences will find even more examples of that balance on their own in picking up this record. Speaking of balance, credit where credit is due. The balance of the music and vocals add to the album’s brutality.
The production values on this record deserve their credit, too. Anselmo co-produced the record alongside Mike Thompson. And the partnership between the pair played a major role in the album’s success. There is a certain power about the record all the way around. Anselmo’s vocals and the output from his band mates are balanced quite well, allowing all involved to really come through. The total output is a sound that while it carries influences from other bands, is still its own. And it is that identity that will ultimately show through and make this a record that any metal head and any devoted Phil Anselmo fan will appreciate in the end. It is available now in stores and online. Fans will get their chance to see the band perform songs from the album live, too. The band will perform Wednesday, July 31st at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That performance will be followed up by a performance at Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa this Friday, August 2nd. All of the latest tour dates from Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals are available now online at http://www.facebook.com/phillipillegals and Anselmo’s official website, http://www.philanselmo.com.
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