Blood & Ashes
posted on 5/2009 By:
This is my second review for this album. I hadn’t converted the first one from head to paper, mind you, but it was all there. And it wasn’t flattering. I was gonna lay into Blood & Ashes pretty hard for being nothing more than dull second rate hero worship. Devil’s Whorehouse is an infrequently productive project which includes members of Marduk and IXXI, that exists solely as a flagrant tribute to the collected works of one Glenn Danzig. What makes their slant a bit different is that, in spite of their name, rather than focusing on the Misfits era, as is more common, Devil’s Whorehouse devotes most of their energy paying homage to the hybrid punkish metal spirit of Samhain, as well as sometimes aping Danzig’s early solo career. I had planned to tell you that Blood & Ashes wasn’t worth your time for a handful of reasons. But the greatest of them, and the only one that ever matters, was that the songs just weren’t that catchy—that the band wasn’t even in the same
Blood & Ashes would have fared better had Devil’s Whorehouse followed another Samhain lead and kept it short. Forty minutes of this is probably more than is warranted and allows filler to creep into the disc. The album opens fairly well, with “Oceans Turn to Blood” and the catchy, propulsive “Wicked One”. Likewise, “Face the Master” is an Earth A.D. styled breakneck highlight. But the band has trouble keeping a consistent pace. Of the two mood setting interlude tracks, “The Cult of Death” works, while the longer graveyard ballad “Smell of the Ancient Ones”, (despite a cool guitar line) is painfully ponderous. The slower, bluesy Danzig-like “Speak the Name of the Dead” succeeds, but like-minded numbers “Shadows Never Change” and “Snakes Out of the Mouth of Hell” come off as average and less than that, respectively. Part of the problem here is that this style is harder to pull off convincingly—hell Danzig has struggled to do so consistently over the last few albums. But equally problematic is that the material spotlights the band’s vocal limitations that are less noticeable in the faster, punkier stuff. On a positive note, the band benefits from mostly avoiding trying to ape Danzig’s Evil Elvis croon, instead focusing on an aggressive gruff bellow, and this helps the band sidestep a common pitfall for the army of devilocked ghoulish would be successors to the crown. What IS recreated very respectably is the album’s production, which does a nice job recreating some of the sound of the era while remaining modern. Likewise, there are no complaints in the musicianship area, except for the previously addressed sometimes dodgy vocals. These guys are professional musicians and it shows.
Also included here is the title track from last year’s Werewolf EP, and an unlisted bonus track of a loyal as hell cover of “Let the Day Begin” from Samhain’s 1986 swansong, November-Coming-Fire. Whether this is an album worth your twelve bucks depends on your affinity for the source material (well, duh), but also whether you’re cool with signing on for an album that’s likely to have a short lifespan. Ultimately, I found much of the album to have a peculiar allure and am glad to have spent the extra time to have found it, but I can’t give it more than a half hearted recommendation.
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