Sound — 6
Phil Anselmo has pretty much been going nonstop since the 1988 debut Pantera release, "Power Metal." He's released dozens of albums, demos and compilations since then, working with everyone from Alice In Chains to Tony Iommi. The band, Philip Anselmo and the Illegals, is theoretically his "solo" project, but I always thought previously that Viking Crown was his solo band. Regardless, this is the first full length release under this tag, having previously only released a split EP with Warbeat. There are 8 tracks on the album, with a total runtime of around 40 minutes. Twelve minutes of that time are all in the last track and several of the last minutes are more like random static, wind in a microphone, and guitar noise than actual music.
The album opens with "Music Media Is My Whore" which has an almost marching cadence going on, but with the lead guitar playing a random assortment of severely whammied riffs. The next track, "Battalion of Zero," is primarily a very repetitive guitar riff played almost throughout. Honestly, at this point in the album I started really being turned off and had to get some air and come back to it. The music has a very "spaz"-out type of feeling to it and feels like the songs were written and recorded very quickly, then a little bit of vocal processing and effects added after the fact. I've read that Phil spent a few years working on this album, which makes it even more disappointing to me. The next track, "Betrayed," was my favorite on the album it actually had some groove to it. "Usurper's Bastard Rant" was up next, and started to make me think the album was going to redeem itself. This was a very solid track, with a really cool dark vibe to it. The title track, "Walk Through Exits Only," was the next up and it was okay but the message behind the song was kind of lost on me I think it might be an attack on illegal downloading of music but the lyrics are kind of hard to decipher. "Bedroom Destroyer" was the most promising song as far as groove goes, but in the end it just made me miss Pantera.
Lyrics — 8
Maybe it is just me, but Philip Anselmo seems to, at times, be slowly sounding more and more like Lemmy. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. Phil has really created a piece of work that is giving me strong love/hate contradictory feelings, but his vocal ability can't be questioned. He is really a very solid metal vocalist. His lyrics, however, are more confusing to me.
The lyrics from "Walk Through Exits Only" are at times much more vulnerable than I expected from Phil Anselmo. I found myself being surprised by how human he allows himself to be especially in a metal song. On the other hand, some of his lyrics are straight up mystifying. As an example of some of the more vulnerable lyrics, here are some of the lyrics from "Bedroom Destroyer": "Cold beer scalds my back molars/ cold beer fattens me up for depression and/ I use depression/ I will use this depression just like a weapon/ and it's aimed at me/ and anyone who dares to come too close/ I've washed some feet/ I thought I'd made it up/ I've kissed some feet but still they stomp on me/ tantrum! / bedroom destroyed/ bedroom destroyer." As a sample of some of the less coherent lyrics, here is a sample from the title track: "It's ruined/ everybody ruins music/ not just me/ you saw it/ you liked it/ embraced it/ then faked it/ not just me/ I'm jaded and over it/ sick of the whole of it/ everything piles up/ until I burn it in the trash/ rip it up and burn it into ashes/ exit!" I actually enjoyed reading the lyrics at least as much as I enjoyed the album.
Overall Impression — 7
Honestly, I was expecting to like this album, but at the end of the day it sounded too much like a sloppy garage band jamming after having too much to drink or smoke. I realize that my opinion isn't going to be very popular, especially as Phil Anselmo tends to have some very hardcore fans. You've got to give Philip Anselmo the respect due, for being part of some very epic metal bands and being involved to different degrees with so many other projects. But this album didn't do it for me. I've listened to the album probably half a dozen times or so at this point and it seems to very slowly be growing on me, but it definitely isn't anywhere in the realm of Phil Anselmo's best work. My favorite parts of the album were the almost stream of consciousness nature of the lyrics, and the guitar solo from "Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens." My favorite song, overall, was probably "Betrayed" or "Usurper's Bastard Rant" but I keep waffling on which one I like more.