Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals | ‘Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue’
It’s sad that Phil Anselmo’s legacy has been somewhat sullied by the hack of his behaviour.
One never quite knows where he’s at.
It means the comments sections of the internet are going to once again outdo themselves for this release – with probably about 1% having taken the time to listen to the album.
Sad – but understandable, and indeed forgivable.
The thing is, this album is very, very good. It’s heavy, groovy, blasty, grindy and angry in equal measure. Chaotic at times, honed at others.
It is easily summed up: take Phil’s vocal style from Trendkill, add what basically sounds like the remnants of early Soilent Green and Superjoint, and you’re there.
Far Beyond ‘Bro Metal
The big man himself sounds genuinely riled: his usual targets are all identified and bollocked (‘Little Fucking Heroes’, ‘Photographic Taunts’), while the dissonant, mulchy guitars are as far from ‘bro stylings as you could get in their jarring, sliding slalom.
That’s where the Soilent Green sound comes in. When those blasts drop and the guitars are sliding all over the place, it’s pure ‘Sewn Mouth Secrets’, only not quite to the same level of manic intensity.
Tellingly the effected and harmonized solo in ‘Individual’ is exactly that. It comes from nowhere on the album to evidence some real musical brain behind all that brawn.
Then hear ‘Finger Me’: that amazing vocal line ‘I will do my job, you will do yours‘ is just pure cool.
Interestingly, Anselmo has placed his vocal reasonably far back in the mix. It’s a deferential choice that allows the sound created by the whole – the frankly flattening drums, the warm guitars and all the rest to coalesce around him, with his voice another instrument.
Well, a highly recognisable one, it must be said. But when he’s bawling out the disses in ‘Photographic Taunts’, I’m hearing equally as much ‘I’ve served too many bast…ards….‘, if you catch my drift.
It’s an impressively low key way for him to return, and an incredibly laudable one.
Ferociously heavy at times, with the swampy, muggy sound of the Bayou all over it, blasting here and careering there – it’s a worthy album of the month and a genuinely excellent spin no matter who the band members might be.
Leave your preconceptions at the door and enjoy it for what it is.
Which is heavy.
4.3 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 02/01/18