Philip Anselmo is back. Not with anything new, you understand, but something very different to what you might expect. So, instead of heavy metal, you now get the treat of listening to Philip channelling his inner Lanegan. Or Cave. Or Murphy. Take your pick.
Despite En Minor being a work in progress – according to Anselmo – since the singer was nine years of age, he only scores writing credits on five of the eleven tracks, suggesting he may have been unable to fully articulate these ideas until the write combination of supporting musicians came to hand (was that pun intended? – Ed). That said, the best track here, Warm Sharp Bath Sleep is an Anselmo original. And very nice it is too, glumly melodic and strangely redolent of Frank Zappa despite Anselmo’s strictly gothic pretensions. Here the ensemble nature of the material works best, with our protagonist ably backed by the chiming guitars of Stephen Taylor (Woven Hand) and Superjoint Ritual‘s Kevin Bond to create a lazily hypnotic (and, it must be said, strangely enjoyable) vibe.
Melancholia‘s title is probably a little too knowing for it’s own good (although it is a strong contender for this year’s ‘state the bleedin’ obvious in a song title’ award), leading to suspicions that this is all a bit contrived; the music is good, sometimes great – with the Satanic Bo Diddleyisms of This Is Not Your Day perhaps suggesting the direction Anselmo should take the band in if this is indeed an intended career opportunity rather than another in the long line of vanity diversions – but it’s just too much of a left turn to be seen as anything other than arch disingenuousness.
I stand to be corrected on all these points, of course, and I will say again that I’ve enjoyed this album all the way through, top to bottom, front to back and back to front on multiple occasions – but I just don’t trust it’s intentions. But that’s me – and I can be a cynical old beggar at times. If you enjoy death rock, American gothic, or as Phil puts it ‘depression core’, I strongly suggest you should give this a listen and draw your own conclusions.
When The Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out releases on September 4th.