Bill + Phil - Songs of Darkness and DespairCollaborations between metal artists are quite common. The amount of “supergroups,” like Phil Anselmo’s own Down, can attest to that. Less common are collaborations between metal artists and people outside of metal. Sometimes these are successful, like when Anthrax teamed up with Public Enemy for “Bring the Noise.” Other times you get Lulu. Now resident redneck Phil Anselmo is teaming up with Bill Moseley, who admittedly has worked with Buckethead in Cornbugs, but is nonetheless most famous for his acting career, notoriously portraying Chop Top in the sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Otis in House of 1000 Corpses and, my personal favorite, The Devil’s Rejects. Redneck metal meets redneck horror sounds like a good combination, but does it evoke the true spirit of hillbilly scumbaggery?

Largely it does, though if you’re looking for loud Panteraesque grooves you better look elsewhere. This mini-album is a strange creature in which every track has a different feel, but opener “Dirty Eye” is the only one to feature any straightforward metal, a mid-paced chugfest with few surprises. In contrast, “Corpus Crispy” is an unsettling piece of southern blues, laying down psychedelic lyrics over a traditional beat while a distorted guitar screams incoherently through the fog. “Tonight’s the Night We Die” is a largely acoustic piece that calls Johnny Cash to mind, and “Widder Woman” is a 30-second skit containing a jangling xylophone, a cackling witch and a horror poem about the titular character. It’s a strange and a rather creepy affair that seems thrown together over a hazy weekend.

Turns out that’s not far from the truth, for after Bill delivered the lyrics, Phil and a team of guests from Superjoint and King Parrot wrote the music around the text, and the lot recorded the whole thing in a mere 3 days. In general, this actually supports the unhinged hillbilly feel the album is going for, using repetition to its advantage and focusing on the peyote-inspired lyrics, which are the strongest point of Songs. Using very visual metaphors, these don’t set any literal horror scenes but create an evocative atmosphere of creeping unease. It doesn’t do opener “Dirty Eye” much good, though, as the guitars overpower the vocals and the monotony of the chugging eats away at the impact of the song. Instead of unpolished, it just sounds unfinished, and Bill’s yee-haw wailing can’t quite make up for that.

Bill + Phil 2017

However, Songs succeeds completely in bringing Bill’s lyrics to life, and each of the songs would work as the backdrop to a different kind of hillbilly horror scene. “Catastrophic” and “Bad Donut” contain vitriolic rants a serial killer might spout at its victims in passing, reminiscent of the character Otis, and “Corpus Crispy” evokes the air of rolling slowly through a ghost town in the deep south, passing only crows and a few grinning drifters with rotting teeth. Here is where the roughness and lack of polish help the tracks, as the jagged grime supports the nasty feel of dust and dread. The production, while a tad loud, finds the right balance between clarity and dirtiness to support the atmosphere fully.

Songs is not a masterpiece by a long stretch, and not everything attempted here works. But it’s successful enough as an experiment in lyrics-first songwriting and in bringing murderous hillbillies from the screen into the ears. I’d love to see the pair expanding the palette of instruments and moods further and I can see Bill penning a great horror concept album. If Phil agrees, there might be a great full-length endeavor hovering between the southern gentlemen. There is promise enough for that on this record.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: ? | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Housecore Records
Releases Worldwide: January 20th, 2017

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  • Zach Ward

    Nice review bruh, other than you saying you like the Devils Rejects ( I think you were saying that, you could’ve been sarcastic, I couldn’t tell) because that movie is so fucking bad that I can’t stand to talk about it. Rob Zombie should stop making films.

    • GardensTale

      Sorry, no sarcasm, I genuinely like that movie. I think the consensus on it is actually somewhat positive as well, so I’m not even alone in liking it.

      House of 1000 Corpses bored me to absolute tears, however, so that balances out.

      • Zach Ward

        Oh dang, I’ve never read anything about it, I randomly watched it on netflix and despised it. I think a big reason why I hated it so much is because of Rob Zombies wife. She is such an appalling actress that it made every scene with her unbearable for me. Also thought the plot was dumb but that might just be me.

        • Rayromono.

          What kind of horror movies do you like?

          • Zach Ward

            Not into horror really at all. If I had to choose though it’d probably be The Thing, or Alien (Not really horror, I’d say more a thiller). But I think most horror movies now are complete trash (or I’m too much of a pussy to watch any good ones). If a movie relies on a consistent amount of jump scares to scare people I’ll pretty much automatically deem it awful. Guess I can say The devils rejects didn’t do that.

          • Zach Ward

            Sorry for the super late reply also, haven’t been on in a while

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      The Devil Rejects is the best movie RZ made so far, is a good movie, dont watch 31 or Superbeasto tought, terrible movies

  • Wadsworth Van Hagar

    The song they released reminded me of Lulu except way less crummy

  • Diego Molero

    I don’t like any of the material Anselmo has done in the post-Pantera era. I doubt this is going to be an exception.

    • Lucas Lex DeJong

      Hell, I don’t like most of the material Anselmo has done IN the Pantera-era (henceforth known as the Pant Era).

      • Diego Molero

        Well, I do like Pant Era, I like all the albums Pantera put out with Anselmo, some songs not, but overall I do like Pantera. But post-Pantera, I don’t like it.

        • Melissa Jammar

          Holy shit are you guys insane? Down is amazing. The first Down CD Nola is better than any Pantera album IMO. Superjoint Rituals first few albums and even their new one is great. His new black metal/ death metal band Scour is incredible. His solo album is great. Just about everything Phil has done has been great for what it is

      • PanzerFistDominatrix

        I reckon it’s because you don’t Understand, just take his hand, he’s the medicine man… :-)

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Diego, have you listened to Down?

      • Diego Molero

        Some songs here and there. It’s not bad, but I can’t say that I like it. Although, perhaps I listened to some of the “weak” songs (don’t recall which).

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Well, first thing is that you shouldn’t expect it to sound anything like Pantera, because it doesn’t. It is more like a mix of Black Sabbath and Southern Rock. Try the songs “Stone The crow” or “Pillars of Eternity”.

          • Diego Molero

            Will do.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Bill and Phill is a pretty funny and cool name for a metal band. I suspect its going to be all I get from this tho. I’ve never rated Anselmo as a singer and IMO has been getting progressively worse

    • Scott

      Fair enough, but from the look of this, Bill Moseley is handling most (if not all) of the vocals.

  • Grymm

    With that name, I was expecting Phil Anselmo collaborating with Bill Steer, oddly enough.

  • OzanCan

    no embedded track? how am I supposed to form an opinion now without out it? Shame… :P

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Just wait, someone might even come around and suggest that you search for a sample with Google or in YouTube.

      • sir_c

        you don’t say!?

    • GardensTale

      Woulda if I coulda. That is to say, no online samples were available at the time of writing.

  • Dead1

    I heard Bad Donut and it was definitely an interesting experience that made me want to watch horror movies.

    Alas not something for repeat listens.

  • Chris

    Moseley also did some excellent work on Ohgr’s (Skinny Puppy frontman) “Devil in my Details” album. It’s a fantastic listen, if you enjoy weird industrial-ish tunes.

  • Óðinn

    Anselmo. No thanks.