Take some musical influences ranging from Marilyn Manson to Slipknot to Pantera, a fascination with horror movies, a slightly twisted view of the world, mix with a large slice of hero worship of The Plasmatics' ground breaking frontwoman Wendy O. Williams and what do you get? LA based quintet Butcher Babies.
Already notorious for their in your face live shows with female vocalists Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey appearing topless with only tape covering their nipples in Wendy O. Williams style the band are now on a journey of maturing their sound and their image. Gone are the topless live shows and now with the release in Europe of their 2013 full length debut it's time for the music to do the talking.
The creepy low budget horror film style cover warns you that what's coming won't be pretty and right from the off this is an album that likes to be in your face.
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With titles like 'I Smell A Massacre' and 'Axe Wound' confirming the band's twisted and angry view of the world they create a soundscape of rage, venom and every teenager's favourite, angst. Songs of grim city reality, dreams viciously shattered, love not just lost but stomped on until hate replaces it, they are a cheerful bunch these Babies.
All this is saved from becoming a one dimensional aural assault by the band's unique twist of having a twin frontwoman line up who can scream and sing in equal measure. This adds some vocal melody into the frantic mixture of aggressive guitar. bass, drums and screams which allows guitarist Henry Flury to vary his attack and add some nice almost tasteful touches of melody amongst the bulldozing riffs which resonate through every song.
The song writing is pretty good in places here too and 'Magnolia Blvd' with its'genuinely catchy chorus is excellent as is 'In Denial' which features some superb guitar work. 'Grim Sleeper' starts quietly before the inevitable explosive riff drags you inexorably to a chorus which even has vocal harmonies.
'The Mirror Never Lies' wins you over with a clever mixture of a catchy heavy riff, melodic chorus and screams of pure rage. It's not all great though as 'Give Me Reason' is a workmanlike attempt to be thrashy and the chantalong chorus and changing rhythms of 'The Deathsurround' leave it sounding uneasy and unsatisfying.
Verdict: I have to hold my hand up and say that I thought I would find this album too one dimensional and full of too much in your face screamy sub-Pantera metal for my tastes.
Butcher Babies have proved me wrong though and there are many things to enjoy here. If they can keep improving their songwriting and reproduce the melodic as well as the aggressive sounds on the album live then they will surely find a future well beyond any sex sells reputation they may have been unfairly labelled with before. Check them out on album or on tour in the UK supporting The Defiled in February.
Heidi Shepherd – vocals, unclean vocals
Carla Harvey – vocals
Jason Klein – bass
Henry Flury – guitar
Chrissy Warner – drums
UK Tourdates with The Defiled
Feb 08: Nottingham Rock City
Feb 09: Newcastle Academy 2
Feb 10: Glasgow King Tut's
Feb 11: Manchester Academy 3
Feb 12: Norwich Waterfront
Feb 13: Brighton The Haunt
Feb 14: London Islington Academy
Feb 1: Southampton Talking Heads
Feb 16: Bristol Thekla
Feb 17: Birmingham Asylum
Feb 18: Leeds Cockpit