February 7, 2013 by Dan Swinhoe
After 30 years in the making, Phil Anselmo has finally made a solo album. He’s been threatening to for the last few years, and as a taster before the event, the former Pantera/Down/Superjoint Ritual man has teamed up with label mates Warbeast for a split 10″ entitled War of the Gargantuas.
The artwork itself is pretty horrific. Based on the 60s Japanese film of the same name, both primarily feature oddly-coloured bigfoot lookalikes wrestling. Aside from the hairy artwork, there’s very little not to like here. Easily one of the heaviest releases of the year so far; there’s not a scrap of melody to be found on this release, just pure, raw metal.
I had always imagined an Anselmo solo album would sound like the calmer, acoustic moments of Down, or perhaps the haunting eeriness of Southern Isolation of Body & Blood. It would actually hard to be more wrong.The two tracks on here, Conflict and Family, ‘Friends’ and Associates are as raw and vitriolic as any of his previous work.
In keeping with his habit for working with quality players, Anselmo has formed a formidable band in his Illegals, made up of former Superjoint Ritual guitarist Maziar “Marzi” Montazeri, Bennett Bartley on bass and drummer José Manuel Gonzales drums, also of Warbeast.
Together they create a gruesome hybrid of thrash, sludgy punk akin to Superjoint Ritual and elements of hardcore and grind. Confilct is a high-paced assault, laden with furious grinding riffs and frantic drumwork. Family… is a sludge-based trudge, but no less potent in its aggression and still finds time to throw in a thrashy solo. Phil’s vocal style has changed much over the years, and it’s fair to say he isn’t the singer he was 20 years ago. But he’s still able to deliver the goods; the raw, raspy shriek he’s developed sounds positively evil.
Though there’s an underlying Pantera-like groove throughout both songs, it’s mostly distorted by the screams and grind that make up the rest of the music. Phil himself has called the two songs on show ‘straightforward and tame’ compared to what we can expect from the full-length Walk Through Exits Only when it finally drops later in the year. That fact alone is both terrifying and intriguing in equal measure. Bring it on.
Meanwhile, Warbeast recently announced a release date for their sophomore album, simply entitled Destroy. Much like Anselmo’s tracks, if these are a sign of things to come, then the record is set to be a belter. Where Phil & The Illegals pushed the rawer, grimier end of the thrash spectrum, Birth of a Psycho & IT are placed firmly in the old skool Slayer-meets-Exhorder end of things. Double bass, screaming solos and riffs aplenty; the songs are tight yet still retain the groove that makes them the prodigies of Anselmo’s Housecore label. Frontman Bruce Corbitt barks out an array of angry lyrics that all fit the tone of the songs nicely, and acts a good foil to the variety of screams Anselmo puts on display.
Already out in the US, a European release is penned in for March through Season Of Mist