Wednesday 13 November 2019

Wednesday 13 - Necrophaze (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Horror Punk/Heavy Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 27 Sep 2019
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I've bumped into Wednesday 13 a few times at various Mad Monster Parties but hadn't realised quite what he did, beyond sing and play in a band that had a strong tie to the horror genre, the Murderdolls. Well, there are other bands too, gloriously named ones like Bourbon Crow, Maniac Spider Trash and, above all, the Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13. There's also a lot of solo material, this being his eighth studio album, I believe.

Somehow I'd lumped him into the horror punk genre, which this really isn't, even if it gets mentioned a lot online. Horror doesn't equal horror punk and I didn't hear the Misfits anywhere in this material, except for maybe Bury the Hatchet, which is like Guns n' Roses covering them. Much of this album has an Alice Cooper feel to it, as if his backing band from the mid to late eighties got pushed forward through a time portal, decided that they adored the work of Rob Zombie and hired Wednesday 13 to be their new singer.

As if to back that up from the outset, the title track kicks off the album with the immediately recognisable voice of the man himself, over a simple but effective John Carpenter-esque synth line, though Alice is only here to provide narration, welcoming us to whatever the Necrophaze is. It's on the other side of the mouth of madness. Oddly, Wednesday 13 sounds a lot more like a chanting Rob Halford on this song, before moving firmly into Alice territory for the next few, including the obvious single, Bring Your Own Blood.

This is a heck of a lot of fun, just like the cheesy eighties horror movie that the cover art suggests, complete with some idiotic college kids in the dramatised bookends. The synths are high and the guitars low, just like the era would have expected. On seeing me post the cover to the new DragonForce album, Jim McLennan of Trash City fame quipped, "I'd watch that movie." I'm in no doubt that he'll say the same when I post this cover and, without any doubt, that movie would be what we get in Bring Your Own Blood. Don't forget pizza and beer. Oh, and your own blood.

Alice Cooper isn't the only influence here. Decompose and The Hearse feel a lot less theatrical in composition, even with eerie synths soaring over the latter, and fit more a heavy metal band who just like watching horror. The Hearse especially feels like something King Diamond might do, merely sans a falsetto voice. It's a deeper song than many here and it's a good one.

The Hearse also features a spoken word intro from Jeff Clayton of punk bands like ANTiSEEN and Murder Junkies. In addition to him and Alice Cooper, there are a couple of other guest appearances. Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil is the voice above and behind Wednesday 13 on Monster, rather than as the guest lead, and Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom helps out on a cover of the most notorious W.A.S.P. single, Animal (Fuck Like a Beast). I presume this is a bonus song because it appears after Necrophaze Main Theme (End-Credits). Maybe it's the radio kicking in after this album finishes at the drive-in and we head home.

Talking of W.A.S.P., Wednesday 13 does shift over a little at points from an Alice Cooper sneer to a Blackie Lawless growl. I heard that most on Tie Me a Noose. There's even some Axl Rose on Life Will Kill Us All, as if he's only Alice with a filter applied. This is like Guns n' Roses, even down to a sort of Slash lite guitar solo, and it makes me wonder how many styles Wednesday 13 plays in. I need to go back to some of those earlier albums just to see how much of a natural mimic he is. "Grotesque by request," the intro states, as if the Necrophaze is a futuristic jukebox where our dime picks the style and he delivers a new song in it.

I liked this and I'm going to need to find out what my eldest son, the Alice Cooper nut, thinks about it. I have a feeling this ought to be right up his alley. It's certainly a lot more up mine than I thought it would be. It's a great album for horror fans, with its narrations, dramatisations and samples about the Zodiac killer, but it's a pretty damn good album if you're just a metal fan and don't care about the horror genre.

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