For all you Pantera fans…and I know you all are still out there…don’t weep. Dimebag may be dearly departed (R.I.P.) but along with the rest of the band, the frontman who left on bad terms is still hanging around. Phil Anselmo, that gravelly-voiced, bearded, both bald and long-haired frontman, is busy with his bands Down, Arson Anthem, and a number of other New Orleans-centric metal projects.
He also pops up in obscure places he wouldn’t expect. On the Warbeast EP “War of the Gargantuas”, Anselmo lends some vocal helpings. And yet he doesn’t overshadow the music. A “thrash act from Texas”, according to Allmusic, they don’t have much out yet, but what they have released if like a fist to the face. Right away on the first track “Birth of a Psycho”, there’s strong Slayer elements in the riffs. It’s like listening to the old Metallica when they were still a thrash band, mixed in with some newer metalcore tricks by way of Killswitch Engage. The lyrics seem almost out of death metal, mentioning torture, death, and insanity. (Metal bands never seem to sing about everyday fare like getting gas or falling in love, do they?)
Phil’s voice becomes apparent in the next song, “Conflict”, the name of which sounds like it could be a Pantera song. His familiar alternating growls and cat-like screeches bring one to a familiar place, though it’s an interesting change of pace over music that’s a bit faster than the usual style he works in. Of course, with the Louisiana and Texas artists at play, there’s a very subtle Southern influence. The guitars and drums retain a familiar sludge quality any fan of Anselmo or this general genre/scene will be able to readily identify. Just the slightest hint of melodic blues pops its head up, only to be drowned out by menacing sonic force.
Overall the EP is a great harkening back to when metal purists chafed that Cinderella was considered “hard rock” in the eyes of the mainstream and everyone wore leather jackets and goatees. At times the music tends to blend together and so without much variation things become a bit bland, which is one risk of extreme metal (shocking sounds sometimes cease to become shocking after a while). “Famly, ‘Friends’, and Associates” retain the usual Anselmo lyrics of searching for authenticity in the sea of companions and while it has headbanging worthy riffs, constantly changes tempos, which can throw the listener off. Otherwise, this is a strong statement from a voice from the gritty underground.
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