Spin Cycle

dixieThere is a warm place reserved in my heart (though the blood runs cold, and I forget all inhibitions) when listening to albums by Wednesday 13.  It used to be a guilty pleasure.  Something to keep tucked away in the dirty perverted recesses of the psyche that enjoys horror movies and rock n’ roll.  But here’s the thing…Wednesday 13 has released too many good albums to be forever kept in the crypt.  While the underground would prefer he stay with them – and in all likelihood his brand of schlock rock will always remain a niche market…there’s really no denying the universal influences of some of the music.

In true punk rock fashion, Wednesday 13 has released an album or EP a year since 2004.   Obviously, with that sheer amount of output – there are going to be hits and misses.  Fortunately for fans, it’s safe to say this one leans with several cuts to the former.

I can hear Christopher Walken subconsciously (as Bruce Dickinson producing Blue Oyster Cult in the legendary SNL skit) as album lead track ‘Blood Sucker,’ kicks off with a rousing round of cowbell.  All in all – a safe, by-the-numbers kickoff to the album.

Things get a LOT better as the next two tracks, ‘Get Your Grave On,’ and first single, ‘Curse the Living,’ serve as the album’s dominant highlights.  ‘Grave…’ kicks off with a chugging riff that starts on the right, then hits the left and the rhythm section plays along in time.  While easy comparisons  to Rob Zombie will be evoked, it’s hard to imagine Zombie has the creativity to create a track that reaches right back into the early 90’s as easily as this gem.  ‘Get Your Grave On Baby/Start rotting away/I’m dying just to hear you say/’Life’s a grave now/dig it/baby…’  Hell yeah – the devil horns are way back up in the air.

‘Curse the Living,’ is flat our thrash rock at its finest.  Your head will be thrashing back and forth throughout this little ditty.  It’s with these three tracks you notice the stylistic difference between this album and 2011’s Calling All Corpses.  This album does have a brief interlude in the middle of the album that features one of those old time b-movie trailers continually calling out ‘The Dixie Dead,’ but musically this album is more aggressive than Corpses.  That album was built almost entirely around catchy, Ramones and Misfits type choruses.  Dixie Dead is focused more heavily on the riffs and less on lyricism.

‘Too Fast For Blood’ sticks out to me only in its ‘stock’-ness as Lars Ulrich would have referred to it.  It doesn’t tread any new ground and the riff is stale.  The difference between ‘Too Fast…’ and the following track ‘Hail Ming,’ are two things:
1) The reference to the villian of the Flash Gordon movies, especially after it’s renewed popularity in last year’s blockbuster, Ted, is timely.
2) When it’s chugging along its machine gun riffage is just as potent as Static-X and the guitar solo even recalls Soulfly.

The title track of the album features probably the simplest of riffs on the album.  They do flirt with those southern tones in the solo – which is fun – but the riff and the backing drums threaten to derail things with just how flat and uninspired they are.

‘Ghost Stories,’ is the torch burner of the album.  Clocking in at five minutes and built around Wednesday’s gravelly-voiced chorus surrounded by a gothic keyboard-driven sound, it reminds me of Lacuna Coil fronted by a badass and a guitarist who doesn’t suck.

‘F.U. (In Memory Of)’ is just one of those standard break-up tracks that plays well to the crowd in the club.  The problem is that Wednesday’s already written this song three or four times already and, well, he’s even remixed it.  We get it dude….you like the ‘F’ word b/c it sells records…

‘Carol Anne…They’re Here,’ is back to the catchy ghoulish punk with the rousing chorus and a welcome silly cleanser to the previous obscenity laced ode.  The album could’ve closed on this track and perhaps the outro, but Wednesday decides to throw in another throwaway in ‘Hands of the Ripper.’  This record could have definitely used some editing. Throw away ‘Too Fast,’ ‘F.U.’ and “Hands…’ and you’ve got a strong album.

I will always look forward to Wednesday 13’s releases because the bottom line is that these albums, even with a couple misses, generally strike that cord in me that hasn’t been severed.  And hey….if there isn’t blood spatter everywhere…this music keeps it all from boiling over…

Grade: B

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