NECROPHAZE by Wednesday 13
Ahhh, where the fuck to start… OH, I know! I think I’ll start right here. In the crypts of Transylvania. Into the mouth of madness. In the NECROPHAZE. And we will stay in that phase like a worm in a grave; only then to slowly twist and turn our way through the bones, dirt, bile, and various phases of Wednesday 13 that led The Duke of Spook & his band of post-apocalyptic ghouls into THE NECROPHAZE… which is potentially their most fleshed-out record to date. Pun very much intended.
For those who DON’T KNOW, Wednesday 13, the aforementioned Duke of Spook, has been creeping in the subconscious of the horror punk (although they never really were “horror punk” in my opinion) and underground rock & roll realm for many moons. His first band of lipstick, blood, and feather - drenched garage glam trash rock madness was none other than The Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13. Formed in the bowels of hell, or uh North Carolina, in 1996; which not only highlights the fact that Mr. 13 was WAY ahead of his time in this current area of gender confusion and LGBTQ rights.. it seems he has been preaching equality for the freaks for DECADES… as well as preaching all things evil as one of the best that could ever coin themselves “shock rock” without sounding like a pure Misfits, Manson, or Cooper cover band. Plunge into hyper speed for a few… in the early 2000’s as if by the grace of the rock & roll gods and extraterrestrial powers that be, Wednesday found himself rocket ship blasted into mainstream(ish) by ex-Slipknot drummer Joey Jordinson, by the formation of their infamous band, The Murderdolls. Without getting into too much of that insanity, let’s just say that band has been on the rails throughout the years with only 2 records out (one essentially all FDQFP13 material, the other potentially being the best rock record Wednesday has ever done) over the course of their career as a mainstream touring band. Left in the wake of the Murderdolls hiatuses, drama, and unavoidable demise; ultimately led to Wednesday 13’s pursuit as a solo grave-digging artist. Having two albums out under Roadrunner records, his utmost popular Transylvania 90201; followed by the lesser-evil and more cotton candy, bubble gum, and popcorn inspired Fang Bang… Wednesday 13 from the very beginning proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. If this is where your memory of W13 begins to fade, it’s probably because since then he has put out a slew of records independently which probably led to less popularity & limited budget; BUT it gave his core fans an opportunity to stick by and support him on an up close and personal level in the underground (which is something else he was way ahead of his time doing, I remember attending his meet and greet as a young lad for like $50, so take that to all the artists now capitalizing on outrageously priced meet and greets). More importantly, this time gave him room to expand his songwriting ability, refine his band, and unleash hell.
Going back and reliving some misspent youth (and adulthood who the fuck am I kidding) listening to Wednesday 13’s seven albums that lead up to NECROPHAZE is nothing short of a gratifying spookshow thrill ride as we are hearing & witnessing the cycle of death, decay, rebirth, & werewolf transformations that takes place on reach record. Wednesday channels what I like to call a glam/punk with a chainsaw on the first couple albums before morphing into some bare-bones, dark & fun, rock & roll on Skeletons & Calling All Corpses. Only then to drink gasoline and eat a lit match with 2012’s The Dixie Dead which began to unleash some Slayer-levels of powerful heavy metal; followed by where the band began to take a shift towards the theatric and insane side of the cosmos with the concept album Monsters of The Universe. Never to loose their heaviness, theatrics, and undeniable song writing excellence that has transformed them into the current state of Wednesday 13. Almost 25 years into his career and at the top of his musical, physical, and grave game; the band has signed with Nuclear Blast records to releases 2017’s Condolences, and now, NECROPHAZE. Yee be warned.
Cue the fog & 80’s horror synth keys as the voice of Alice Cooper (you read that right) begins to seduce & summon spirits with his poetic and spoken word intro, I can’t help but school-girl smile and wiggle around like I was witnessing The Beatles in the 60’s. Or, more accurately like the scene in Texas Chainsaw, in which Leatherface is freaking out by the window waiting for more innocent humans to slaughter. ANYWAYS, acting as a Crypt Keeper - type character, Alice sets the tone whilst narrating this very theatrical record “…Entering the Necrophaze. Decomposition is my addiction..” He speaks. I cannot help but think how gratifying and full circle of a moment this must be for Wednesday having Cooper, the man who inspired him to do what he does, on his album. Wednesday, if you’re reading this, I’m sending you a deeply personal high five. “Alice Cooper and GI Joe taught me everything I need to know” 13 reckons on a pervious lyric… well, there ya go kids, You can live your dreams too. Just keep rocking. And just keep rocking Wednesday 13 does to ghastly perfection on NECROPHAZE.
“Bring Your Own Blood” is Wednesday in his classic, fist-in-the-air-and-blood-on-the-floor form, with a bombastic Halloween party anthem for the ages. It is quite cool to see him retrain his early career tongue-in-cheek humor and enthusiasm that seemed to be lacking on his previous two records; but rejuvenating that style for his current sound. This only further proves that NECROPHAZE truly is a perfect encapsulation of all the band has done so far, incorporating the punk rock with the sharp metal brutality, the humor & wit with the darkness, and the experimental nature of the record with their trademark sound… all while totally having its own unique vibe and atmosphere. Now, atmosphere is not something I’d particularly associate with a 13 record, but this certainly has a wonderful retro horror vibe, injected slime green Re-Animator style that bleeds through the whole album. Some songs are blindingly heavy like “Zodiac” or “The Hearse”, while others are a little more fun like “Bury The Hatchet” and “Decompose”; but all feel very much like they belong on this album and this album only. The cohesive feel to the album is something that I feel the band has been going for on the last 3 records, which they have achieved, but only perfected it with this one. I credit that to not only Wednesday personally being a laser-focused, master of his horror business by now; but to his beyond solid lineup of ghouls behind him.
Although technically the newest member of the band, drummer Kyle Castronovo fits into place like he’s always been there (spoooky); as he is fueling each song with epic tempos found only in basements of haunted houses and crematoriums. The rest of 13’s band of misfit toys have remain unchanged for almost a decade at this point, and their musicianship and sound have evolved to an almost mystical point. This includes the ever faithful rhythm guitar warrior & beauty queen Jack Tankersly, the best bass player money & innocent souls can buy Troy Doebbler, and the post apocalyptic guitar warrior whom needs no introduction, the almighty Roman Surman. These dudes give Wednesday 13 the extra punches it needs to get to the next stratosphere of the dark cosmic cemetery soundtracks they provide. Seeing them live is unparalleled, and this may be the first record in which their ungodly playing ability and true potential is captured in audio form. Roman’s ability to lock in an ultra catchy riff that teeters between glam rock and death metal is something I’m convinced no one else can do, along with a tone that sounds like UFO’s crashing into one another, is beyond impressive. And quite simply, bad ass as fuck. Combine that madness trading off with Jack’s undeniable 6 string sorcery, you have horror metal guitar that cannot be touched by anyone. Troy & Kyle have the rhythm section as down as down can get… 6 feet deep and beyond. Not to mention, NECROPHAZE features an onslaught of guest voices of horror & rock royalty; as well as Stone Sour’s Roy Mayorga supplying synthesizer and sound effects that wouldn’t be out of place in the best 80’s horror flick never made.
NECROPHAZE plays out like an 80’s drive in horror flick, and each song are the scenes that bloody up the plot and give the listener an experience that so, so, many other bands simply cannot deliver. Wednesday 13, at this stage of the game, is a master of his craft; and NECROPHAZE will let you know it. The band is as heavy as they ever were, but also as fun, theatrical, and energetic as he had been in the early days. NECROPHAZE proves there’s a whole lot more to the band than just horror film references, profanity, and stupid humor… not that there’s a goddamn thing wrong with any of those, mind you; but it solidifies Wednesday 13 a a full force band with seemingly unlimited potential. Decades into their career, and it feels like they’re just getting started. For a long time fan, I could not ask for anything more. For everybody else, this record will restore your faith in shock rock.
Also, the closing track of the record is a cover of “Fuck Like A Beast” by WASP, so, there’s that, too.
Gym Rating: 5/5
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