Saturday, 24 August 2013

Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals "Walk Through Exits Only"

All, to almost all metal fans know the name Philip Anselmo (for reasons that I think are obvious, I prefer to refer to him as “Phil” rather than “Philip”). Whether or not you’re a fan, it is undeniable that he and a little band named Pantera made such a difference in heavy metal music that it is still being talked about today in the form of god status. Phil, as well as drummer Vinnie Paul, bassist Rex Brown and of course the late guitarist Dimebag Darrell are all equally responsible for changing metal as we know it.

People generally know the story, while drugs and alcohol took their effect on the band; Phil was the worst off out of everyone and subsequently after all the arguments and physical fights, the band broke up. About a year later, in December of 2004, Dimebag was fatally shot while on stage with his new band Damageplan which caused a travesty in the metal world still felt to this day which subsequently left Dimebag’s brother Vinnie vowing that he would never talk to Phil again.

Since Pantera’s demise, Phil has tried to turn his life around. To watch him speak is a little hard, because he looks like he’s either permanently angry or just in a lot of pain. He made amends with Rex Brown years ago, and has even been somewhat forgiven by Darrell’s long time girlfriend Rita, but still there’s no luck in Vinnie ever forgiving him.

He has remained active in music, particularly with his band Down, which formed while he was still very much an active member of Pantera in the early 90’s, as well as the now defunct Superjoint Ritual. He recently released his first solo album Walk Through Exits Only , under the band moniker “Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals”. Now every band Phil has ever sung for has been of the “groove” metal genre, a style that he and Pantera are credited to having started. This new solo album is, well it is just angry. It doesn’t have a groove, it doesn’t have a rhythm. It just has angry noise and yelling.

I always regarded Phil’s vocal performance on Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell album to be the best metal vocal performance since Judas Priest’s Rob Halford (I’ve raised many eyebrows in the past saying that, but I stand by it). Phil has unfortunately strayed VERY far from that raspy voice which, while it was very wild and angry, could carry a note perfectly. Then with the all around revolutionary Vulgar Display of Power, Phil started aggressively yelling more than singing, which at the time was just fine, I mean it made the music all the more intense. But by the time it got to Pantera’s The Great Southern Trendkill album, it was clear that Phil’s voice was rapidly decaying. Now that was in 1996, imagine what he’s continued to do to it over the years. But if you listened to him sing This Love this past May at the Revolver Golden God awards, you’d have heard that he can still sing that song almost perfectly.

This solo album wouldn’t have helped his voice at all. Take the first track, the not even two minute long Music Media Is My Whore. The song is essentially a heavy marching band styled music playing in the back while Phil yells out angry lyrics. Then on Battalion of Zero, the music just thrashes and bashes incoherently behind Phil yells even louder lyrics of disgust towards whatever he’s mad at now.

To be honest, I haven’t gotten lazy and I certainly haven’t lost my touch, but that’s all I can really say about the album. The remaining songs are hardly any different from one another. To listen to songs on their own, I’d say the songs are good real aggressive metal tracks, especially for the angry soul that needs a quick fix. To listen to the album in its entirety, well let’s say since my first time listening to it in full, I’ve tried to do it again, but I just couldn’t. By the time I get to the title track I’m just lost. I applaud Phil, however, for still being THIS pissed at the world, and going ten steps further to show just how pissed he is.


Bedroom Destroyer” –­ Musically this is hardly different from the other songs on the album. Honestly, listen to any song on the album and you’ll basically hear the whole album in that one song. The reason I choose this as my favourite is because of its lyrics. Some of the songs on this album actually have pretty good lyrics, in Phil’s typical style of violent aggression put in to words.


6.5 (Out of 10)

Track List:

"Music Media Is My Whore"  
"Battalion of Zero"  
"Usurper Bastard's Rant"  
"Walk Through Exits Only"  
"Bedroom Destroyer"  
"Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens"  

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