Walk Through Exits Only review by Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals

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  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 6.4 (29 votes)
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals: Walk Through Exits Only
3

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.

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Abacus11
    This is a great album. It's a big departure from Pantera and Down but it is HEAVY as hell and like always... Phil's lyrics and vocals are amazing.
    SOAD_SoG
    Phil tried to do something different...sloppy guitar riffs and weird tempos. I loved it. The best part are the lyrics...they are like an insight to Phil Anselmo's life.
    m1rzelpower
    Nice review!Phil did say that this project was kind of personal and that it won't be for everyone,but I really like it.
    inflames66676
    Phil needs to stop jumping from one project to another and start saving his vocal chords for the pantera reunion.
    RebelDawg13
    Dimebag's dead. It isn't possible for a Pantera reunion to occur.
    Metal4Ever3000
    Well, there was rumors of Zakk filling in for Dime. Hope it doesn't happen, they've all aged and it wouldn't be the same. Dime's memory is already being destroyed by Dean releasing a million Dean Dime guitars a year and only two or three original guitars.
    Anty 7
    I agree 100% with SGofawesome. I was so impressed by this album! I am not a fan of Anselmo and had low expectations. Who was expecting an album like this? It's really original and conceptually impressive. This album is a huge artistic statement, which I really didn't expect from this guy. I don't think the reviewer "gets" it. Too bad.
    metalchris87
    Phils the man and even if this album isn't his best work you know the live shows are still gonna kick ass and be a rowdy drunken puffs of weed smoke in air affair.
    jjlandrie
    Converge is heavy. Prolly. Take a dude that joined a glam band, turned it into the heaviest "mainstream" metal band with cowboys from hell, then helped (probably pushed) that into the Great Southern Trendkill, helped form a band called DOWN, made one of the rawest metal bands SUPERJOINT RITUAL...went back with fronting Pantera with Reinventing the Steel... and did plenty of shit in between. and finally at 48 years old went even heavier than any of that and formed a new brutal band. Phil you suck. Sorry that people know you enough to give you shit. You haven't ruined music! At this point Im waiting to hear your piano solos
    blooddrunk
    It sounds the same as superjoint. boring repetitive crap. you can do better phil...
    travislausch
    Second thoughts, what I've heard of it is AWESOME. Like, this is the kind of stuff I wish Pantera would be making if they were still around today. Y'know, in the alternate universe where Dime still lives.
    EpiExplorer
    This remind me of Mistress for some reason. Miss that band like cray, but this album is reeeeaaally good and swampy, but also crazy enough to be called mathcore at points.
    rog1234
    Meh. I'd like it and be surprised by how "heavy" it is like half a year ago. Want heavy, try some Converge, something... burtal, but smart. That's just playing loud and fast.