Published Aug 09, 2013Walk Through Exits Only, the first album from ex-Pantera and current Down frontman Phil Anselmo as Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals, is a strange, disorienting and satisfying experience. As Anselmo admits, it's a difficult album to parse and marks another big step forward for the metal mainstay.
"It's not the type of record where you can just listen once and have a knee jerk reaction and say, 'Okay, that's that,'" Anselmo tells Exclaim! "I meant it to be the type of record that you have to give 10, 20 spins before you could make heads or tails of it."
The reason Anselmo wanted an album that was so thick with different sounds and ideas was because he's spent his life absorbing all the different sounds and ideas of the metal underground and its various forms. Though he fronted one of metal's most commercially successful bands, he's also always had one foot in the underground through side projects, record labels, or taking lesser-known bands out with Pantera during their arena-rampaging heyday.
"I myself am a super big-time underground extreme music champion," he says. "I love it, I love most of the cornerstone bands and definitely a shitload of a lot of the older bands that I damn well know helped develop the entire fucking culture of extreme music and underground music and all the sub-genres that fall underneath it. So what I wanted to do was make a record that could stand really next to any one of them without being able to be put into a specific category unless it was completely alone."
And alone it shall stand, even within his own catalogue, which is just how Anselmo wants it to be. He says that everything he does — especially if it's a new project — has to be different than what's come before in his growing discography.
"If there are any similarities at all, then let that be a reflection of who I am and what I've brought to the table over the years," he says. "So, really, I really wanted this to be a thousandfold way different than Down and way different than anything I've ever touched before, and why not? It's supposed to be, it should be, it's a brand new thing. It's just another expression of music. I think if you're going to do something new and fresh, then it should be just that: new and fresh."
And while the music is sure to raise some eyebrows (groove-tinged, grind-influenced, black-informed tech-thrash, with a hint of death metal), the lyrics, which reflect a surprisingly self-deprecating side of Anselmo, might also make some people stand up and take notice.
"Lyrically, I wanted to write about stuff that's very, very honest and down to earth and even sarcastic towards several things, but mainly myself," he says with a laughs. "There's a lot of songs on this record where I'm basically laughing at myself. I'm 45 years old, too. If you can't laugh at yourself at 45, then you've got a fucking gigantic problem."
As previously reported, Anselmo and his band are in the midst of a North American tour and will play Toronto tomorrow (August 10) and Montreal on August 11. See the complete schedule here.
Walk Through Exits Only is out now on Anselmo's own Housecore Records.