When you think of pissed-off albums, BLACK FLAG's "My War" is at the forefront of them all. That, and MINOR THREAT's "Out of Step". Every so often an album distinguishes itself in the metal and punk sanctions as authentically pissed-off. Considering there's so much artifice in disguise of angst these days, when you hear the real McCoy, it's enough to cause shivers.
Leave it to one of metal's most revered screamers to outdo himself. Phil Anselmo has always been at the forefront of hostility in PANTERA, SUPERJOINT RITUAL, VIKING CROWN and to lesser latitudes, SOUTHERN ISOLATION and DOWN. There's sure to be a widespread case of metal euphoria from listeners stepping up to Phil's new crunch posse, THE ILLEGALS. Their debut album "Walk Through Exits Only" is as severe as Anselmo's perturbed expression on the cover.
Suffice it to say, it's no secret Phil Anselmo has weathered his fair share of adversity over the years. Even while exiling himself for a brief time until he felt ready to resurface in the music scene, there's something about "Walk Through Exits Only" that sounds as if everything Anselmo was harboring in isolation has only just now fully climaxed.
This spells outrageous volume, menacing crunch chords, dizzying parlays between double hammer and slithering tempos, plus jacked-up guitar solos to match Phil Anselmo's ear-splitting bombasts. In short, "Walk Through Exits Only" is the most pissed-off album anyone's released in quite some time.
THE ILLEGALS, made up of Marzi Montazeri (guitar), Jose Manuel Gonzalez (drums) and Bennett Bartley (bass), create the heaviest, most insane tones Anselmo's ever decked himself out with, no disrespect intended towards PANTERA. The latter had tons of groove to counter the tremendous execution, while THE ILLEGALS are a different beast, focused explicitly upon maximum carnage. There's little restraint held by Montazeri, who rips bloody arpeggios at will on the slashing title track that only lets up in the slower final section. Even then, Montazeri and Bartley pour out riffs in massive chunks.
Montazeri is a motherlovin' monster on this album, peeling off high-pitched fret shrieks galore, most notably on "Battalion of Zero" and "Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens". Those with pets are advised to keep them clear out of the room when this dude's jerking out his solos, which come in serious heaps amongst "Irrelevant Walls"' twelve-minute running time.
Phil Anselmo, more than ever, rips his throat clean out while his band alternates between slow march patterns and random thrash or grind intercuts. The scheme is repeated all throughout "Walk Through Exits Only", yet despite a lack of dynamics, the eruptive experience is filled with precise mayhem and enough dirtiness to keep the album at a constant fever pitch. Perfect din scapes for Anselmo to bellow "Insult!" and "Revolt!" like shoved-out mantras on "Betrayed", "Tantrum!" on "Bedroom Destroyer" and "Rant!" on "Usurper's Bastard Rant". Onstage, it's a guarantee Anselmo will have his audience wailing "(We are) going…going…gone!" from "Battalion of Zero" back at him.
While Anselmo has a bio book on the way, consider "Walk Through Exits Only" a blistering preview. This is a noisome portal into his tortured id that was obviously wrung out to bits during his brief sojourn from music. "Bedroom Destroyer", "Betrayed" and "Bedridden" gives listeners a candid view of depression via Anselmo's wolfing tirades and confessionals. He also sounds off about the dumbing down of man in the digital age with "Music Media is My Whore" and "Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens".
Remarkable that Jose Manuel Gonzalez can play both in whiz-bang mode and more tempered rhythms, yet spill as much sensory overload that's not already hijacked by Marzi Montazeri and Bennett Bartley, much less Phil Anselmo's imposing outcries. Put together, "Walk Through Exits Only" is seriously busy as it is seriously fierce.
If Henry Rollins was a walking time bomb on "My War", Phil Anselmo is likewise here, only he's set on a much shorter timer.