Already a fan from their 'Walking Through Exits Only' work, I knew exactly what I was getting in for with the new Phil Anselmo & The Illegals album and already had this pegged for one of my most exciting releases of this year. The arrival of new guitarist Mike DeLeon had big shoes to fill in my eyes stepping into the post of former guitarist Marzi Montazeri, with Stephen Taylor stepping over to join on guitar also, the bands sound thickened with Walter Howard IV on bass.
‘Little Fucking Heroes’ takes the opening shots with visceral brutality. Phil and co. set out to make something ugly, and they’ve succeeded instantly. It sounds darker than its predecessor, with moments reminiscent of the recent Superjoint release. ‘Utopian’ carries a more blackened metal vocal approach, something that appears more throughout the album, sitting uncomfortably atop of a track that borders on the knife edge of just noise to those not tuned into this niche style.
Track three brings the title track, one that hammers home hard and unrelenting, one fans should be familiar with it already being released, drudging and weighty, pure musical devastation that you can be pretty sure if you don’t like from that release, the rest of the album isn’t for you. ‘The Ignorant Point’ takes the second release from the album, matching the intensity of the first, the closest sounding track to anything form Walk Through Exits Only.
‘Individual’, ‘Delinquent’ and so on all take their own fresh bite at the carnage, cutting guitar tones with uncomfortable clashes to keep you on the edge. Freight train drums provide a pace that brings it all close to derailment, with addition Walter not being shy on making his mark. This age of The Illegals are hopefully here to stay.
Phil Anselmo has never been one to shy away lyrically, and this is anything but different. His voice has gone through changes in his decades of sacrifice, and he may struggle to hit those notes he could in the early days of Pantera, but the dark side thanks him with the gut wrenching assault he provides in these times.
Sitting in around 46 minutes, this isn’t for the feint hearted. They as have done previously, set out without any goals or expectations of reactions. This is going to be marmite, hated by many, but loved by those filthy few, as one of those filthy few, I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, and I doubt they would either.
Photo Credit: Jody Dorignac