Philip Anselmo is like the metal world’s favourite, reliable uncle. Every time we see him, he looks a little older and a little bit bigger around the middle. He’s got thousands of stories and life experiences from his wild drug fueled youth and being in one of the world’s most influential metal bands. He cares for and nurtures the metal world like an uncle also, constantly supporting and promoting new bands through his label, Housecore Records. He also delivers decent gifts like an uncle, in the form of new music every other year or so. However, his last present, ‘The Purple EP’ from his supergroup Down, wasn’t quite up to the ex-Pantera frontman’s high standards. However, his latest gift to metal comes from his solo band, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, and shows us that Uncle Philip has still got it.
First of all, the musicians Anselmo has got on this album is an example of how he supports and takes care of the metal world. This is Philip H. Anselmo god dammit, one of the biggest names in metal, he could have had basically any big name that he wanted to play on this record, but instead he gives youngsters from up-and-coming bands like Warbeast, Marzi and Missing Monuments a chance to show their talent on a huge platform with one of the biggest names in metal.
The instrumentation of this album is deserving of the attention it will be earning these young artists. It’s manic, fast and ridiculously chaotic. With speedy guitar licks you could get blisters from just listening to on tracks like ‘Usurper Bastard’s Rant’ and the title-track ‘Walk Through Exits Only’, to ball crushing heaviness on tracks like ‘Battalion Of Zero’ and ‘Bedridden’. There are also some Dimebag-esque squeals thrown around the place too. Styles change so fast and often that at times it’s also reminiscent of really extreme genres like grindcore.
The same can also be said for Philip‘s vocals. He uses his full range; you’ve got the slow angry talks, the vicious and heavy shouts, and some high pitched screams, which we haven’t really heard since the last Pantera albums. Anselmo‘s pipes are on great form with this record, but the question most people are going to be asking is “Does it sound like Pantera?”. Well, yes and no. It sounds like what you would expect a solo Anselmo album to sound like; a more fucked up Pantera record.
The Anselmo album it sounds most like is Pantera‘s amazing ‘The Great Southern Trendkill’, but without the obvious big songs. This is because Anselmo has toyed with song structures and writing elements to make this album even more manic, whilst this does mix things up and make things more interesting, it does leave the album absent of one thing. Bangers. Whilst they’re not desperately missed, they are something we’re expect to be hearing from Anselmo, and the lack of simple head-banging anthems may make some fans unsatisfied with this album. However, it’s still one of the most interesting albums put out by metal’s favourite uncle in a while.
Written by Jack King