PHIL ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS  “Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue”

By Dr. Abner Mality

God knows we are living in ugly times. And ugly times call for ugly music. One guy that knows ugly real well is Phil Anselmo and he is involved with both these projects, which dish out some of the most abrasive and ravaging music around. But ugly doesn’t necessarily mean you give up writing memorable songs. I’m not sure Phil has got that figured out yet.

Let’s start with “Red” from Scour. This band features input from members of Pig Destroyer, Cattle Decapitation and Decrepit Birth. Quite a happy and fresh faced bunch, eh? Well, “Red” delivers some of the most destructive and brutal BLACK METAL you will hear in 2017 or any other year. That may not be what you expect from these guys, but it’s what you get. Here are six songs all of which are under 3 minutes in length and which deliver nuclear force BM in the vein of Marduk and Gorgoroth. The shit KILLS! 5 out of the 6 are pure raging speed that locks on your brain like a laser guided missible. The comparisons I made above are apt and unavoidable, but Scour is fully the equal of those bands. Even “Sentenced”, the “atmospheric” soundscape track, is on target and very creepy. Phil’s black metal vocals are perfect. I highly recommend Scour.

The Illegals’ approach to brutal music is different…and not as effective. Nobody expects AOR melodies from a record with this title, but that doesn’t mean memorability and songcraft should be thrown to the winds. This is a vicious listen, but there’s nothing really catchy about it. Once the album is done, you won’t remember the songs, you’ll just remember that it was loud and unpleasant. Original Illegals guitarist Marzi Montazeri is no longer in the band and he is keenly missed. A lot of the tunes here combine Superjoint style mayhem with occasional cold dissonance and hardcore punk. Phil’s singing is more of the bellowing variety than the sharp rage of Scour. There are effective moments like “Little Fucking Heroes”  and “Delinquent” but a lot of the songs seem too long and just don’t have hooks.

Both of these releases are prime examples of ugliness but I have no problem recommending Scour above Phil & The Illegals.