Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals
Walk Through Exits Only
Season Of Mist
19 July 2013
by Raziq Rauf
Maybe the slow burning classic rock jams of Down just aren’t cathartic enough for Philip. Maybe the increased vigour that he’s been displaying through Housecore Records has rekindled something deep inside one of the most metal hearts stalking our stages these days. Either way, Walk Through Exits Only is a heavy metal beast of an album.
Maybe it’s Marzi Montazeri’s slightly familiar squealing guitar tone that piques the interest. An old friend of Pink Beard Dimebag Darrell, it’s likely not a coincidence that …Exits is the most latently metal album Anselmo has released in some years, even if it’s not that sonically straightforward.
That’s not to say that Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals – to give this band its full name – is treading on old turf, for it is distinctly different to Pantera. It’s also distinctly different to Down, Superjoint Ritual and Arson Anthem but that’s why it’s important not to write this off as some vanity side project. This is the real deal. This is an Anselmo album to savour.
While his voice has been called into question more and more recently, maybe it’s just morphing into something different. Anselmo’s voice resembles Lemmy’s on more than one occasion on the album and that’s hardly the worst sonic hybrid to be faced with. What’s important to note is that this music fits his voice. He’s adapting perfectly.
Lyrically, Philip is furious. While every single song initially seems to be a rant or a moan about how something, somewhere isn’t good enough, it soon becomes apparent that he himself is the subject of the ire. He’s posing questions and he’s then answering them himself. With excellent new music.
Opening with the militant ‘Music Media is my Whore’, Montazeri’s wah guitar is showcased from the off before the frantic but somewhat one-paced ‘Battalion of Zero’ comes in. The jarring ‘Betrayed’ has stuttering groove in amongst the self-loathing before the excellent ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ comes in, slamming down interesting rhythms, vocals screeched through gritted teeth and crunching guitars. “Interesting” because it takes time to understand the rhythms at first – they have depth.
It continues from there in similarly exhilarating fashion. Walk Through Exits Only is an album that is the mark of a man who is unhappy standing still, even in a world in which he is put upon a heavy metal pedestal. Philip H Anselmo has made one of the most unsettling metal albums of 2013 and it’s not even his proper band.
Sounds like: Lemmy fronting Pantera
Top tracks: Usurper Bastard’s Rant, Betrayed, Walk Through Exits Only