Former PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo recently spoke to DamnationVault.com about a number of topics, including his project called EN MINOR. The band, which is influenced by the classic goth period of the '80s with artists like THE CURE and SISTERS OF MERCY, has completed a debut album which has yet to see the light of day.
Describing the record as "the darkest, heaviest, most miserable shit I've ever written," Anselmo said that he still does not have a set release date for the LP, despite the fact that it has been done since 2015.
"I don't know if I'm getting cold feet or not, man," he said. "It's not party music, it's not good-time music.
"People are asking me to do gigs with it and shit like that, and I just don't know if it's going to translate the way people might envision, because they haven't heard the music," he continued. "It's so hard for me to explain it.
"It's heart-wrenching shit, man. It's very hard for me to just explain, and it's also very hard for me to… It's tough because no one's heard it, and I don't know if people should fuckin' hear it, man. It is, I guess, the truest, darkest record I've ever done in my life, and I'm just not sure about it. I'm not sure about it."
Anselmo added: "I think the musicianship is great, I love the band I have surrounding me… I just… When I do a project, I go a thousand percent. So, like, with the last [PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE] ILLEGALS record, it was a death metal style, death metal flavor of the moment that was really reigning supreme when we were writing the stuff. So that's where I went with that and stayed true to it stylistically. The same can be said with EN MINOR. Except the way I sing on EN MINOR is completely bass… Originally, I was saying baritone. But then I was corrected and someone was like, 'No, it's really a bass vocal.' And really, that's what I'm doing. It's a comfortable style. It's a different style than people I guess have heard me attack before. But it is what it is. And I'm just not sure… I don't know how people would take it, I don't know.
"It's recorded, it's written, and eventually I guess people will hear it," he said. "I just… I don't know when the right time is. I'm sure all the guys in the band are, like, Now! Now is the right time, you stupid man!' But… we'll see…
"I do think it is some of the most painful stuff I've ever written and it's definitely true as fuck."
In the same interview, Anselmo called DOWN's third album, 2007's "III: Over the Under", "a very, very instrumental exercise of rehabilitation" after the passing of his onetime PANTERA bandmate, guitarist "Dimebag Darrell Abbott. "And I had been through major back surgery that really, really was a battle to come back from that I'm not even sure I'm a thousand percent back from," he admitted.
"That DOWN record is a Catch-22 for me in a weird way because it's like I spilled so much of the guts and the memories and the experiences I had into those songs that it's like when we go back to those songs, or when we had gone back to those songs, it's actually too much of a reminder of the dark times," he said. "And as positive as those songs are, it's just very tough for me in that situation.
"But I will say… The process of doing the record was productive as far as taking away some of that darkness and actually taking it, all the negative, and hammering it out into a fine energy. And I took that energy and I placed it into something productive."
Anselmo recently said that he feels better than he did two decades ago after undergoing back surgery in January 2018 — the latest in a line of corrective procedures designed to helped him deal with the damage to his back, neck and knees sustained over nearly 30 years of touring.
"I can say that most of the records that I do are combative of depression and stuff like that because it feels like my entire career I've been nursing one injury or another," he told DamnationVault.com. "After a certain age — because I grew up in a very physical element of heavy metal, hardcore that PANTERA… We kind of bridged that gap for the heavy metal and hardcore attitude and image, or whatever people were seeing on stage. So, that was a very physical time.
"Back then, I made every mistake in the book — every rookie mistake in the freaking book, you know? I should've been… I should've been treating my body like an elite athlete and instead I was treating it like an elite drunk. And I was an elite drunk. And then with the injuries, I made all of the early mistakes with all of the pain medication and garbage that they want to feed you there. That's a whole different subject. And all of those medicines, by the way, are big-time depressants. They are reminders of the problems that you're going through, but on top of it, they give you a big cloud of depression that is thick enough to cut through with a knife. And to break through all that is… It's a war, it is a war inside of yourself, inside of your mind, and it's rumbling under your flesh, it is true.
"I just feel extremely grateful and blessed, for a lack of better words, for the fact that I do have an outlet. All of this depression and anger and ugly thoughts, ugly things, depression, period. Just wrap it up in depression. I do have an outlet for it, and that is music, and all of the things that surrounds music. Because, like I mentioned earlier, I should've been treating my body like an elite athlete.
"When you come back from something like major back surgery, if you're really taking your rehab seriously, you're going to be working out a whole lot. I will say when you get out there and you work out and you stretch out and you sweat and you hit the bag, whatever your thing is, that helps fight depression. And then when you get in the room with your guys, and you start inventing the music and putting the music together, that helps your depression. And then finally, when I get down and I'm by myself, and I'm penning lyrics, that helps depression. That's a three-pronged attack at the depression angle. I know that there are other people who do not have this outlet.
"I think the only advice that I can give, or the only advice people could take away from what I'm saying is to get outside, break a sweat, get some fresh air… Get your workout in, is what I'm saying. Get your damn workout in and then take a look at your problem. Getting that fresh oxygen to your brain is paramount. It's huge. You got to do it. And especially for the people out there who want to turn their lives around. I'll tell ya, I'm guilty of all of the depressive factors here. One of them is complacency. Sitting, living through it, and feeling depressed and thinking that 'this is as good as it gets' when it's really not true, and it takes something as simple as just stepping out of the front door and walking to even tweak it, and minimize it. That's the worst thing, is the complacent depressive, you know? People that want to actually punch a hole in that depression, the people that will take your advice, get out, walk, work out, rehab, write their emotions down on paper; whether you're a good writer or not, just scribble it down. Once that pen hits the paper, you can take off from there. What you get out of that is what you make. Once again, you might not be, you might not feel like you're a great writer or anything. That's not the point. The point is to spill your guts one way or another. Get that oxygen to your head and go."
Philip is continuing to tour in support of PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS' second album, "Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue", which was released in January 2018 via Anselmo's Housecore Records in the U.S. and Season Of Mist in other parts of the world. The disc is the follow-up to PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS' debut, "Walk Through Exits Only", which came out in 2013 to mostly positive reviews.