Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals:’ Walk Through Exits Only’ Review

Metal heavyweight Phil Anselmo is back, under the name Philip H. Anselmo and the Illegals. Technically a solo effort, Walk Through Exits Only features the formidable talents of Marzi Montazeri (guitar), Bennett Bartley (bass) and José Manuel Gonzalez (drums). The album comprises eight tracks of chaotic rage – machine gun rhythms, distorted guitars and pummeling drums combining to create an experimental and extreme experience.

Phil-Anselmo-Walk-Through-Exits-OnlyMuch has been made of the shift in Anselmo’s vocals over recent years; and yes, this is a hoarser-sounding performance than anything we’ve heard previously. But the shredded vocals fit the rawness of this production, especially the brutality of tracks such as Betrayed, Bedridden, and Bedroom Destroyer and their explosive fury.

40-odd minutes of discordant, thrashing intensity, this album presents Anselmo at his rage-filled and restless best. Opener, Music Media is my Whore, is a distorted, furious march. Battalion of Zero raises the bar, exploding with angry vocals, punishing drumming, and untamed riffs from Montazeri. The title track is a showstopper, with its ear-piercing vocals and relentless drums. And, while a little overlong at 12 minutes, Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens closes the album with thundering beats and insane, savage guitar noise.

Dense, dark, and lyrically aggressive, Walk Through Exits Only is an album that improves with each listen. It’s satisfying to see Anselmo branch out into more alternative, unpredictable territory with this gutsy, heavy release. Recommended.