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Album Reviews : Phil Anselmo & The Illegals – Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue

By on January 31, 2018

Phil Anselmo is a name the majority of metal fans around the world will be familiar with. From the success, he achieved while being the vocalist of Pantera during the 90’s where they touted as the saviors of thrash to his various side projects over the years (Down, Superjoint Ritual) as well as being a member of Necrophagia from 1997 – 2001. He’s been controversial in recent times with many circles of the metal community becoming appalled at his behavior. A few line-up changes have taken place since their debut record with original bassist Stephen Taylor moving over to guitar as well as the addition of another guitarist in Mike De Leon and new bassist Walter Howard. Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue is the second full length from the band and offers a solid dose of sludge/death with a whole array of influences from extreme music.

The album delivers a punch right to the face from the first moment with the opening track “little fucking heroes” providing an assault of thick distorted guitars, pummeling drums and Phil’s vocals which are typically vicious, but also incredibly distinct (something which can be hard to find in vocalists of extreme metal) The assault to the senses does not stop there and continues into the next track “Utopian”.

The incorporation of a strong sense of rhythm is apparent on this record as it has been with Phil’s years in Pantera where they pioneered groove metal for most of the 90’s. The speeding up of the tempos is something to be admired on this album with the precision which is required particularly from the drummer and guitar players. The use of dissonant guitar chords was something which was a fantastic addition to this album as it has become used more and more by death/black metal bands.

Beneath the levels and levels of chaos is something which is incredibly intellectual. As well as the guitar work of Taylor and De Leon, Phil adds another layer of guitars which just emphasizes the atmosphere which has been created on this record. Listen to this record and you’ll discover under the depths of chaos there is an element of amazingly well thought out passages of music.

Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue is a well put together record which takes Phil’s musical influence which will always be steeped in Pantera, but adds the influences of death metal pioneers in Morbid Angel as well as artists like Portal and even Dillinger Escape Plan. The end product is an album feels natural for Phil Anselmo and encompasses a large chunk of his musical influences. I can see it becoming a favourite among the legion of fans which Phil Anselmo commands and those who have an inkling for the heavier side of metal.

Band: Phil Anselmo & The Illegals
Album: Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue
Year: 2018
Genre: Heavy Metal
Label: Season Of Mist
Origin: USA