Phillip H. Anselmo and The Illegals
Walk Through Exits Only

Since appearing as a Rob Halford wannabee on Pantera‘s Power Metal in 1988, Phil Anselmo has appeared in a large number of different projects; the pioneering groove metal in the aforementioned band, the seminal Louisianan sludge/southern/stoner metal outfit Down, the black metal groups Eibon and Christ Inversion, the hardcore Superjoint Ritual and Arson Anthem and even folk in the shape of the out-of-print, one-off project with his ex-wife, Southern Isolation. Although he is still very active with Down, in the last year he has decided to focus more of his efforts into his long-discussed, long-awaited solo project, Phillip H. Anselmo and The Illegals. A split with Warbeast was followed up by a full length album released in July this year, entitled Walk Through Exits Only. Although Anselmo wrote all of the music himself, aside from the vocals the music is performed by his formidable backing band.

One of the more extreme bands that Anselmo has been involved in was Superjoint Ritual, and during one’s first listen to Walk Through Exits Only it is an easy, inevitable parallel to draw between the two groups. Although that said band released their second and final record pretty much ten years ago, Anselmo appears to have lost none of the vitriolic energy which made listening to Superjoint such a cathartic, fun listen to.

It has to be said, this album is definitely a grower. The opener, ‘Music Media is My Whore’ is one of the less remarkable songs you’ll hear this year, but ‘Batallion of Zero’ hits hard; chainsaw guitars and savage drum beats with Anselmo’s iconic yet aged roar at the forefront of things. What is immediately apparent is that this is some of the most technically demanding music Anselmo has written in years; a simple way of putting it would be the straightforward blackened hardcore thrash of Superjoint Ritual meeting the shreddier aspects of Pantera. Think of the more extreme moments of The Great Southern Trendkill and you’ll get the picture. ‘Betrayed’ has some wonderfully catchy, hectic and demanding riffage, although the arrangements might bewilder some; it has to be said that some of the songs don’t flow as well as as you’d want them to. The same positives and negatives are shared with the song ‘Usurpers Bastard Rant’, the latter having an awesome Slayer-esque solo tradeoff towards the end. The production is in-your-face and suffocating, yet the one criticism that I’d level towards it would be the mixing of the guitars; sometimes the rhythm is buried beneath the crashing snares and cymbals. Anselmo never minces his words, howling anthemic, sing along, at times amusing lyrics , such as “I walk through exits only…because I can!”, “I’ve…been…betrayed…Revolt! Revolt!“ and “Does one and one make three?…that’s the question!”

The centrepiece of the album and the title track is arguably the finest cut here, unbelievably punishing and angry even by Anselmo’s standards. Ebbing and flowing between Napalm Death-esque passages and sludgy riffs reminiscent of Eyehategod, it is a fantastic five and a half minutes of music.

The album closer, ‘Irrelevent Walls and Computer Screens’ is one of the more experimental pieces of music released by Anselmo; after a typically atavistic, brutal five minutes, the song becomes an awesome kalaedescope of droney guitars, jamming away into a fadeout. Certainly, the fourty five year old isn’t resting on his laurels and is trying things here that he hasn’t attempted before.

Judging Walk Through Exits Only against the other various musical guises Phil Anselmo has performed under is a pointless task, although I’m sure the majority of listeners will readily accept that records such as NOLA and Vulgar Display of Power are never going to be matched, and will be able to enjoy this, thoroughly, with an open mind. It is a very solid release; great for having a beer and letting off steam to, and a follow up is eagerly anticipated by myself and many others.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jack Taylor
October 7th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: The Devils Lettuce

    I was a Metallica/Pantera nerd in middle/high school. I think Phil has really grown over the past 20 years. I respect the shit out of the guy.


  2. Commented by: yeariht

    Never liked this loser.never liked any of his bands.always thought panteras denial of their first four glam cds just reeked of disingenuous and fake posers posturing for fame and money.diamond darrel was a terrible guitarist and how people still dont see how pantera completely ripped off exhorders style is beyond me. Gave this cd a listen and it is just horribly mediocre rock music.so bad.


  3. Commented by: Pisscutter

    Dude no one listens to Exhorder.


  4. Commented by: Brutalicon

    I listen to Exhorder, however, I don’t think for a minute Pantera ripped them off or sounds overly like them. Influence, I’m sure, cookie cutter, no.

    The band served its purpose and kept heavy metal going for some time in the 90s, I would give credit to Phil for a good amount of the opening bands. Hell, they had Anal Cunt open for them. I’m sure that was for financial gain.


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