Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only (Housecore)

Wednesday, 14th August 2013
Rating: 7/10

Head on straight, out of the fog, coherent, etc. etc., Phil Anselmo has come a long way from those messy, semi-embarrassing Superjoint Ritual days where the band sucked, he was a mess, and no one cared. The stability of Down has given Anselmo a functional post-Pantera act he can rely upon, but the desire to do a solo record has always been there for the singer. Walk Through Exits Only is the man’s initial solo foray, an all-over-the-place, extreme, but largely disheveled offering. Essentially, the type of record you could see coming, but are clueless how to adjust to.

Forsaking the ironclad simplicity of Pantera, along with the blues-soaked jamming of Down, Anselmo and his band appear to be working without a template or songwriting map. Generally, that’s not much of a problem, but the kamikaze’d ideas and occasionally reckless vocal banter from Anselmo (“Heads up, heads down”) are a by-product of the numerous influences thrown into the mix (read: crossover, hardcore, death metal). With a dearth of tall-and-proud, grunt-a-long choruses to work with, sorting through the vocalized tatters of “Battalion of Zero” and title track is a task of unease, as guitarist Marzi Montazeri was given the green light to shred and dice as he pleases.

Even though the Abbot brothers never had much of an issue hitching their wagon to the nu metal brigade, they understood the value of a good song, and were the ying to Anselmo’s hulking, underground yang. Without anyone to pull the singer back in, the pile-driving moments of “Betrayed” and slinky riff-action of “Bedridden” are best left to be savored, while the rest is a near-miss altogether. Bear in mind that Anselmo sounds great, and inspired, though, yet Walk Through Exits Only is the result of Anselmo’s unconventional ideas getting the best of him.

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