Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals Walk Through Exits Only

Philip H. Anselmo & the IllegalsWalk Through Exits Only
Nothing but respect for Phil Anselmo and his dedication to just get more extreme with age. For a guy who fronted one of metal's most commercially successful bands, he sure isn't trying to break back into the mainstream. In fact, it seems to actively repulse him: opener "Music Media Is My Whore" sounds like one big, horrible farewell letter to the music biz. And things just degenerate from there, with this album possessing a bit of the heft Pantera always carried (see the mighty "Usurper Bastard's Rant"), but mainly having a huge, chaotic bone to pick. Taking elements of black and war metal and mixing in a whole lot of chaotic noise, the production only serves to further muddy things up. The end result is a whole ton of aggression, which is what the man has always specialized in; here, it's filtered through, and delivered with, an underground urgency that his former band only hinted at. And, yeah, the whole thing gets a bit messy and sloppy, at times, but even when it threatens to become unlistenable ("Battalion of Zero," which features some of the man's familiar aggro-groove filtered through a chaotic extreme metal sensibility, or the title track, with its frantic, nightmarish guitar refrain), it's still a great deal of fun. By the time sprawling, 12-minute guitar-noise closer "Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens" ends, it's clear Anselmo is doing what he wants, and the end result is even more unhinged than expected, taking the underground approach of his many side-projects over the years, adding Pantera grooves and staying miles away from anything approaching Down in sound. (Housecore)