One Foot in the Flesh Grave‘s take on doom punk and swamp rock is just the kind of experience I was hoping for. Formed in the cruel, unrelenting heat of Corpus Christi (Texas), Wailin Storms must have quickly realized that to stand out, their sound needed more than just the country and rockabilly twang they were being exposed to. Before their first album became a twinkle in their eye, they’d already packed up and moved Eastward, to settle in Durham, North Carolina, a well-known center for country, indie, metal and punk. It was a move well made as you’ll hear.
Right as you begin to listen to One Foot in the Flesh Grave it becomes obvious where Wailin Storm‘s primary influence comes from – Danzig‘s “She Rides.” Wailin Storms haven’t copied the track by any means. Instead they’ve crafted and expanded on a sound previously unique to Danzig to deliver 33 minutes of drugged out, bluesy heavy metal. It’s loaded with “what you see is what you get” attitude that feels familiar but at the same time comes across as brand-spanking-new. Justin Storms’ vocals are the big highlight. Remember Danzig’s Elvis meets Johnny Cash-like charisma? Remember his loud, raucous, rambunctious presence? Well, Justin Storms delivers that same kind of revelry and he does it very very well [And he even wears a shirt sometimes! – Steel Druhm]!
Musically the tracks are an odd journey and it’s tough to lump them into definitive categories. They all have that base element of what you loved about Danzig but there’s more, a whole lot more. “Don’t Forget the Sun” is spiked with the twang of 16 Horsepower alongside hints that you’ve done a bad thing, bringing to mind musicians like Chris Isaak and Jace Everett. Moments of the track feel like fingers curling around your throat, the atmosphere is harrowing and the ambiance brings to mind the struggle of American experimental darkwave musician David Galas. Find that hard to imagine? Keep listening. “Ribcage Fireplace” could have been named by Monster Magnet and musically I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they collaborated on the track (along with “Lost”).
Justin Storms (guitars), Steve Stanczyk (bass) and Todd Warner (lead guitar) operate like a well-oiled machine. The crew’s riff-work in “Ribcage Fireplace” is the heartbeat of the song, monstrous, heavy and reverberating, the perfect accompaniment to Mark Oates (of Bats & Mice fame) as he pounds out his oddly timed, but very hammered-out drum lines. At times Mark’s efforts remind me of those of the hard rocker Benny Horowitz of Gaslight Anthem mixed with some of Jean-Yves Tola’s 16 Horsepower quirk. “Mystery Girl” does a screaming about-turn, veering quite deliberately down the garage rock path carved out by Green Day‘s side project the Foxboro Hot Tubs on their release Stop Drop and Roll!!!.
By now you’ve hit the midpoint of the album and it’s not losing momentum. Not. One. Bit. “Walk” takes on some Alice in Chains, Dirt era with a very slight element of Foo Fighters in play in the background. It’s an strange number and were I to describe it with images, I would have to liken it to the surrealism of Twin Peaks. “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” and “German Fur Tails” again feel as though Monster Magnet was responsible for naming them. They probably sound the closest to being pure and undiluted Danzig. Wailin Storms throw in lock stock and two smoking barrels ending the album on what can only be described as a high note. The tracks contain what is Mark Oates’ fiercest drum-work, and riffing that’s so rough, catchy and uncomplicated the rowdiness stays with you long after the tunes end.
Overall, the production plays to the strengths of One Foot in the Flesh Grave and just like Danzig, Justin Storms has so much charisma you can’t help but want to hear everything he sings, yells and warbles. And warble excessively he does. I’m having a lot of difficulty finding a reason not to keep spinning this album or finding fault with it. Wailin Storms have cooked up something oddly dark and tricksy with One Foot in the Flesh Grave. It’s a bit like meth – lots of replay value, and leaves you wanting much much more [You’re going on extended leave. – Steel].