Songs of Darkness and Despair

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Dirty Eye
02. Corpus Crispy
03. Catastrophic
04. Widder Woman
05. Tonight's the Night We Die
06. Bad Donut

"Dooooooooog will hunt!"

One thing about running your own horror festival, the residual effects are seemingly limitless. Phil Anselmo, who's been inadvertently dogging the underground press with his multiple doings, has yet another project to unveil. It's a unique endeavor, and a pretty damned cool one, at that.

Picture, if you will, the actor who portrayed two cult favorite villains, Chop Top and Otis, scrawling autographs for a group of fanboys, when the host of the Housecore Horror Fest and PANTERA/SUPERJOINT/DOWN (fill in the Anselmo alma mater blanks yourself) vocalist becomes an unexpected musical ally. Most horror nuts will attest, Bill Moseley stole the show in Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2", a tough act, considering his equally wacky co-stars. That campy romp being, in this writer's opinion, the only sequel worth a salt in the inexplicably long-lasting Leatherface canon, and, in 1986, it turned Moseley into a short-term sensation. He, along with Sid Haig, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Leslie Easterbrook, Danny Trejo and Priscilla Barnes, wove their way-back charms again in 2005 with Rob Zombie's trash epic, "The Devil's Rejects". Of course, the frenzied legacy of Moseley's Otis had already been staked in a film prior with Zombie's "House of 1000 Corpses".

You may or may not be aware, but Bill Moseley's since been pursuing music. Perhaps Rob Zombie lit Moseley's pilot with the same quick-snap zeal as Chop Top's trusty Bic in "Chainsaw 2". Or, Moseley has simply been following a calling, as his napalm-blasted alter ego did by tormenting his "faaaaave" radio DJ, "Stretch".

Back in the saddle with SUPERJOINT and continuing to drop material into his various outfits like a Playskool shape game, Phil Anselmo brings his wares to Bill Moseley's creepy lyrics and wiry vocals for a six-song collaboration, "Songs of Darkness and Despair". Anselmo and his trusted engineer Stephen"The Big Fella"/"Prick Rubin"Berrigan (SUPERJOINT / DOWN / PHIL ANSELMO AND THE ILLEGALS / EYEHATEGOD / GRISTNAM / CLASSHOLE) supplied production and instrumentation for this EP.

Because of their mutual connections, "Songs of Darkness and Despair" is supplemented by guest performers: SUPERJOINT's Kevin Bond with guitars, KING PARROT's Squizzy Squires on bass and guitar, and Jose"Blue"Gonzalez (SUPERJOINT/PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS/WARBEAST) with percussion. Moseley himself has a solo record, "Spider Mountain", and he worked with Buckethead on the zany shredder's CORNBUGS project.

So naturally, the prevailing question looms: What's this thing gonna sound like? A proto-pounding deathbot with freebird-thrusting horsepower? A holy-rolling mess worthy of a squashed armadillo on a Texas interstate? A party package for fiends who mumble "Stihl" in their sleep with wafts of ghost pepper-flared human chili breezing from their snores? Well, folks, this may be one of the coolest things you hear all year, because "Songs of Darkness and Despair" is a wooly affair with buzz bombs, unnerving lucidity and occasional social conscience. This from a horror figure in league with someone who just might've taken a torched coat hanger to his own angry dome on occasion.

"Dirty Eye" is an instant grabber, a kinda-sorta doom and kinda-sorta boogie blaster. It carries a nasty stride and deafening chords as Bill Moseley chimes along in the vein of Les Claypool with less nasal inflection. While Moseley's pipes aren't perfect, they're not too shabby, either, and they drop "Dirty Eye" into an appropriately sordid place. Even better, the guitar solo rips louder than one of ol' Bubba's saw-gasms.

How can you not roar at the title "Corpus Crispy"? While the temptation to rumble that this thing is great, the bipolar method applied here is much tastier. The slinking samba groove and harrowing twangs to "Corpus Crispy" ring of Nick Cave as the track sashays into a squirmy corner presided over by random sitar plucks and conga clapping. The song's figurative Spanish dancers nestle happily into a pool of grue nattered over with sadistic glee by Bill Moseley.

"Catastrophic"'s ruthless riffs are cut to the point The Cook might take Grandpa's mini-sledge to his own outraged eardrums. Moseley drops a slew of F-bombs amidst the skulking din around him including the fuming edict, "Save our fucking children!" Did Chop Top inhale too much Agent Orange and turn activist? Fret not, gore hounds, for "Tonight's the Night We Die" is the haunting anti-ballad you're clamoring for. The somber guitar lines and Bill Moseley's morbid chanting emits a shivery and strangely beautiful death ode, sick as it may ring.

Wrapping with a grimy, MISFITS-chucked chum over "Bad Donut", Bill Moseley plays sociologist, spooling his spot-on observations about human behavior. Its ugliness is no doubt served by the minions of terror junkies hounding for his autograph as much as the mindless drones of mainstream society.

People are asking a hundred dollars-plus for Otis action figures, three to four hundred for a Cinema of Fear series Chop Top. Danny Elfman and OINGO BOINGO chanted, "No one lives forever," in "Chainsaw 2" and Otis went out in spectacular fashion to LYNYRD SKYNYRD. Thus, immortality, if not career longevity, is measured according to demographics, not screenwriters. That being said, who saw this coming?

Author: Ray Van Horn, Jr.
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