REVIEW: PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS – “Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue”
Phil Anselmo has been tireless in 2017. Touring hard with SuperJoint in support of ‘Caught Up In The Gears of Application’ and then releasing ‘Red’ with the black metal band Scour in November. Now Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals are back to shower us in insanity with ‘Choosing Mental Illness As A Virture’.
Stated simply, this album is terrifying. I could not escape an all-consuming feeling of rage and mania. The lyrics from the title track “If I could shake it off, I would” followed by a tortured death scream “But I fucking embrace it!” fit well with my mental state as I listened to this album.
Phil Anselmo is completely enraged on every track of ‘Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue’. From low death growls and bellicose verse to maniacal screams, Phil uses his voice as a weapon on cuts “Little Fucking Heroes”, “Individual”, and “Finger Me”.
However, what gives this album the ceaseless feeling of distress is the music. Mike DeLeon and Stephen Taylor use speed, volume, and dissonance in their guitar playing to craft riffs that raise the hairs on your neck. Propelling each song like a runaway locomotive is the drumming of Jose Gonzales and the bass of Walter Howard. Jose “Blue” Gonzales and his drums accentuate the anarchy of the bands performance on this album.
As case in point take the song “The Ignorant Point”. The music and vocals join to cultivate the mental imagery of being wrapped in a blanket and pitched into a lake to thrash in monstrous panic as you drown. This album is far from easy listening.
With ‘Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue’, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals are choosing to embrace the insanity of chaos. Every song is full of relentless anxiety, tension, and malice. Seeking solace is not in the cards as the death-tinged hardcore brutality within this album is terrifying. However, there is a bit of a cathartic release that only the tortured vocals of Phil Anselmo can provide. Strap yourself in and enjoy the madness.