The much-anticipated solo album from Philip Anselmo, Walk Through Exits Only (Season of Mist/Housecore) has arrived, and it is definitely a musical enema for your head. It’s loud and chaotic, brutal, and beautiful to hear all at once. This album sees him returning to the style we had become so accustomed to in the first half of his almost twenty-five-year career in metal. Don’t get me wrong, Phil as the voice of Down is great, and he has added a wizened, graceful quality to that band now. But, if you also love the vitriolic harshness of classic middle-era Pantera albums, Superjoint Ritual, and his other work, you will be thrilled to hear the sound of the Phil of old rise again. This album will speak to a primal place deep within you, and it will have you speaking in tongues.
Phil created this album with his backing band, The Illegals, comprised of Marzi Montazeri on guitars, Jose Manual Gonzalez on drums and Bennett Bartley recorded the bass. While the album was co-produced by Michael Thomson and tracked and mastered by big names such as Steve Berrigan and Scott Hull, this album represents Phil’s total vision, ‘auteur style’. His total commitment to detail can be heard in every note. Musically, the album is everything you have hoped for. Squashing your head from the opening salvo of ‘Music Media Is My Whore’, guitars shred and scream, while drums attack and blast away. ‘Battalion of Zero’ and ‘Betrayed’ just sizzle with unvarnished, no bullshit, musical hatred as only Anselmo can produce. As you’d come to expect, the album has many sonic twists and turns. Thrash and hardcore blend with old-school grooves of death metal and a modern crust sensibility can be heard too.
‘Usurper’s Bastard Rant’ sounds like a descendant of the Superjoint song style, with jagged riffage and a wave of disgust vocally. The title track is appropriately brilliant as well. One of the most standout things about this album are the lyrics. Although Phil spews venom with the best of `em, a closer examination reveals an honest accounting from an older, more comfortable guy than the one we’ve gotten to know through his music two decades ago. Never afraid to mix vulgar notions with vulnerability, tracks such as the title cut, ‘Betrayed” and ‘Bedroom Destroyer’ mark some of the finest phrases he has ever put down. The only gripe I have with the album is its brief run time of forty minutes, but it’s not like there is anything left for him to prove to anyone, but himself anymore.
Keith (Keefy) Chachkes