Album Reviews

Album Review: PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS – Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue

PHIL H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALSThe second record from PHIL H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS, CHOOSING MENTAL ILLNESS AS A VIRTUE is one impenetrable record dosed with some of the darkest tones, ever. Imagine an earwig that burrows into your skull as effortlessly as it would the cork of a wine bottle as it takes snips of what you thought your metal was and clearing a path for something entirely more porous and prickly.

The lineup of THE ILLEGALS is, of course, PHIL H. ANSELMO | Vocals, STEPHEN TAYLOR | Guitar, MIKE DELEON | Guitar, WALTER HOWARD | Bass, and JOSE MANUEL “BLUE” GONZALEZ | Drums. All of these players have PhDs in thrash/hardcore playing with bands like SUPERJOINT, WARBEAST, MOD, FLESH HOARDER, and BEING KILLED so there should be no doubt that is, in fact, what goes down on “CHOOSING MENTAL ILLNESS AS A VIRTUE”.

HOUSECORE RECORDS brings the record to the masses on January 28th, 2018 and since this is ANSELMO’S own brand, you better bet that nothing has been left out for fans. ANSELMO talked about the record saying, “This is something that was very different from the first record where I was very staunch. I wanted it to be ugly. I was very firm that I was writing every fucking note. The thought was, ‘This is my contribution to ugly music right this second in a heavy metal vein.’ That was great at the time. WALK THROUGH EXITS ONLY made its own little statement that I am a free agent and I belong to no single band. This time, I worked closely with everyone. We tried different ideas together. It made the spirit of this thing come alive even more because of the enthusiasm these guys bring. It enhanced the integrity of the project.”

I listened to the prerelease and here are my notes on the record:

  1. LITTLE FUCKING HEROES – annihilation of spitting thrash guitars will throw you up on the ceiling and the groove-laden undertones buried within PHIL’S vocals will bring you right back down.
  2. UTOPIAN – I love the range of this track. ANSELMO regurgitates the disdain from a familiar place, as squelching guitars melt any of the delusions off your frontal cortex.
  3. CHOOSING MENTAL ILLNESS – get ready for the pounding purveyor of potent growls that will make you militantly pay attention. There is a breakdown that is heavy AF; like the darkest demon in your repertoire, dragging its tail on a hollow floor. There’s a line “I swear if I could merely shake it off I would. But I embrace it” that echoes so much truth!
  4. THE IGNORANT POINT – rising flames of the most distorted guitar tones peeled the paint off my walls. Seriously. ANSELMO’S wails will poke a hole in what is left of your soul and fill it with some mighty truths. “The Lord Of The Flies is now. Don’t shoot the messenger or you’ll prove the point.”
  5. INDIVIDUAL – timing in at 6:49, PHIL prods us like cattle to question, not to agree with everything we come in contact with. Killer guitar solo on top of this ticking time bomb of what we’re about to receive; is only for us to decide. Killer key change in the middle that reinforces the message. #slays
  6. DELINQUENT – ratta tatt tatts are bullets of metal morsels that ride alongside ANSELMO’S sermon. This song calls you up – it’s goddam poetic. You pay attention because the music makes you.
  7. PHOTOGRAPHIC TAUNTS – a dance around a massive fire pit and as the measures play between my ears, those indiscretions of bullshit get flicked in making it burn higher. The guttural bombs of ANSELMO are so dope, they will raise you from a coma.
  8. FINGER ME – old school and pit worthy; this song is lean and mean, my Pretties. Thrash just evolved right here bitches!
  9. INVALID COLUBRINE FRAUDS – someone call Liam Neeson because I was TAKEN during the intro to this track. If you listen closely, you can hear the message melting through the loud AF distortion of the guitars. PHIL decides to give us a little piece of his realness; listen closely.
  10. MIXED LUNATIC RESULTS – dude, PHIL still has one of the most stimulating low vocal registries in metal, hand to god. They will move you in this track to listen even more intently to where the message is coming from and where it will go within you.

So, there you have an overview of what this record did for me. I am psyched that I have it to play when I need to get some of that good ole aggression out and make nice-nice with myself or others. I love thrash metal for this reason; it guides me to crank out those uglies that ball up inside and either decide to stay or become so big that I’m forced to extract them like an infected pimple. There aren’t many things that can accomplish this than straight up thrash/metal/heavy music and if you wanna know the truth, I think everyone should have the opportunity to thrash and flail around with heavy music, just for this sole purpose, you know what I mean, Mean Joe Green?


Look for my interview with Mr. PHIL ANSELMO himself coming soon, where we chat about CHOOSING MENTAL ILLNESS AS A VIRTUE, legacies and get a little philosophical on yo’ asses!

Until then – MRML,



Cherri Bird

Independent and selective rock journalist & wordsmith, focused on strengthening the connections between a fan and the bands they follow through the words she writes. Specializing in interviews, music & show reviews, and candid photography; Cherri takes what she discovers and pounds the social media pavement to fuse the energy that music brings us with the bands that create it.

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