originally posted on Saturday, 3 August 2013
I’ve been wondering for weeks how to start off this article on the Butcher Babies. There is so much I can say, but I don’t know what would kick this off on the right foot. The reason being that every week or so I learn something different about the band that changes my perception of what they are about. Originally I was thinking of saying something along the lines of “some people would do anything to get noticed”, since in the early days of the band, their two female singers Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd would perform on stage wearing nothing on the top half of their bodies but tape covering their nipples. But not long after I discovered them, they dropped that gimmick, which was initially a tribute to punk legend Wendy O. Williams (the band’s name comes from her song Butcher Baby from the first Plasmatics album).
It is hard to deny, however, that much of the metal bands quickly rising popularity is thanks to those scantily clad days, but it doesn’t seem to matter now. My perception continued to change on the band after finding out more about the two singers. Being a man in his 20’s, I’ve known enough girls to know that the stereotypes of most pretty girls who know they are pretty and flaunt their bodies to be true, but I’m convinced that there is more to Carla and Heidi than just that. They seem to find more importance in their music than in exploiting their bodies, which I’m sure most people who know them wouldn’t expect. They also appreciate their fans. I missed out on the recent Toronto stop of the Monster Energy Mayhem Festival, which they are currently on, but friends who went said they took time to talk to every fan that wanted to speak to them, as most bands should do.
In July, the Butcher Babies released their full length debut album, Goliath. This album is full with the bands rather unique brand of metal. It blends in punk, some goth, maybe a bit of metalcore, but is practically incomparable to any other metal band, at least I can’t think of anything else that sounds like them. Just a warning, this is one of those articles where I pretty much go track by track in order.
Both singers share vocals on every song; differentiating the voices may be a challenge. From what I have gathered, a lot of the clean vocals on the album are done by Carla, while the guttural vocals are shared by both. Heidi’s screams are more of the high pitch screams heard throughout while Carla has the lower growling voice that is heard. The voice that sounds like someone is suffering after being brutally attacked (that’s the best way I can describe it) is Heidi.
Take the opening track, I Smell A Massacre for instance. The scream that starts off the song is Heidi. The song is a good starter for the album, but with an album filled with heavy hitters such as this one, it is hard to go wrong. This track has a great mix of screams and clean vocals. The beginning of the bridge of the song (“run for cover, run for cover”) is an example of Heidi’s voice I mentioned that sounds like she’s been left dying.
Magnolia Blvd. only turns up the intensity of the album. This track features Heidi doing a clean vocal break in the chorus. Her voice is all around more intense throughout the album, even with her clean vocal voice as heard on this song. Carla sings the bridge of the song. This is the perfect opportunity for listeners to hear the difference in their voices, to better point out who is who in later songs.
C8h18 (Gasoline) shows a more metalcore influence in its music. While most of the songs by this point haven’t truly given a spotlight to the musicians playing behind the singing, this song is no exception. In fact, of the three songs to have started this album, this song’s vocals stand out the best, thanks to the harmonized clean vocals in the chorus. But the background music consists of just a heavy beat with the same note being played practically throughout.
The album continues to impress with Grim Sleeper, which for the first two and a half minutes doesn’t differ much from C8h18 (Gasoline), but the song then takes a dramatic turn, even including a string section to help display some surprising musical intelligence behind a very well sung bridge to the song.
The album’s title track Goliath is the first song that doesn’t really change things up compared to previous songs. It is a hard hitting metal track, but in structure it is very similar to that of the albums opening track. In Denial gives lead guitarist Henry Flury a much needed spotlight. The instruments of this song seem to stick out a bit more compared to the previous songs. Jason Klein’s heavy bass playing is hard to miss when Henry is doing his thing on guitar. It should be said, though, that drummer Chrissy Warner has done a terrific job up to, including and beyond this point of the album.
Give Me Reason brings back the same intensity that was heard on Magnolia Blvd. bringing the album practically full circle with more songs to spare. The Mirror Never Lies follows similar structures to past songs; most particularly C8h18. Dead Poet, my personal favourite song from the album, takes one on another style. This song features the fewest guttural screams compared to every other song on the album, which provides a welcome change.
The concept of “groove” metal has always baffled me. Everyone who knows the term knows Pantera pretty much started the subgenre, but I’ve never heard any true similarities of other “groove” metal bands compared to Pantera which is why I never truly understood the genre. The Butcher Babies track The Deathsurround, however, is the closest thing I’ve ever heard to “groove” metal performed in the style thatPantera made so popular in the 90s.
The album ends with Axe Wound, which is a remake of the first song from the band’s debut EP. This song is a terrific conclusion to the album because it too has many elements that differentiate it from the rest of the album.
I believe this to be one of the better metal albums to have been released in a long time. I’ve pointed out many times in past articles that there are too many metal bands that don’t try hard enough to be different. So many bands sound similar to each other, almost making metal music a joke to outside listeners. Thankfully there is no other band out there like Butcher Babies, showing that there are still artists that want to be different. They almost make it seem effortless too. While there are a few things I’d consider changing, for instance I’d try and stoplight the musicians behind the singing a bit more, I’d still rank this among the top albums to have come out all year.
“Axe Wound” – An album such as this, with the exception of a few tracks, it is hard to go wrong with what you’d choose as a highlight. Heck, I don’t see reason why my favourite track, Dead Poet, shouldn’t be the highlight, but I do think that Axe Wound would do a better job at introducing the band to anyone who has never heard the band before. The songs mixture of heavy screams and terrific melodic clean vocals, as well as the mixture of acoustic guitars and heavy electric guitars undeniably make this one of the albums best tracks.
9 (Out of 10)
|I Smell A Massacre||3:34|
|Give Me Reason||4:24|
|The Mirror Never Lies||3:02|