I have to admit it took me a few tries. I’m not a big fan of heavy, death or whatever you want to call it metal. I wanted to hear this as I love the power- punk- horror Wednesday 13 whom I have heard play numerous times at The Rockpile here in Toronto (and where he and band will be performing October 5). A few shuffles through the material and I thought “Ok, get over it. Listen to it with an open mind. You have to appreciate someone evolving and trying something different” and sat down and listened. Repeatedly. It has been on non-stop for 3 days.
Whilst not a concept album Wednesday 13 himself has said that this album is about death; from the perspective of the deceased as well as the taker of life. Inspired by the overwhelming amount of grim reportings of deaths in the news, followed by caring responses to the living of “Condolences” and “Sorry for your loss” he penned the songs “Condolences” and “Death Infinity” and the rest followed. It is not the almost-pop, campy Wednesday of old. It is a dark album. It is “Darker than I thought”. He found himself immersed in stories of true crime and serial murders and thought to himself, “That is so awful; I think I need to write about it.”
And so here is an album that retains some of the old horror-based humour and delighted devotion to the light-hearted dark (think Munsters and Addams Family) with what I would call the more approachable tracks “Blood Sick”, “What the Night Brings” and “Cruel to You” (perhaps substantiated by their being the videos already released?) but ventures into heavier guitar, drums and lyrical content.
The album unfolds like the process of dying …Last rites performed before you shuffle off this mortal coil, the lifeless body now a mere cadaver, eulogies delivered and the infiniteness of death.
This is a very well-rounded album. The vocals run the gamut from angry, throaty growls to menacing whispers; guitars are fast and heavy as well as slow and controlled; drums are thunderous, rolling and echoing; haunting keyboards add the perfect measure of melancholy to the proceedings.
Stand out tracks for me:
- “Eulogy XIII” Orchestral and sweeping; it is begging to be included on a film soundtrack. If that isn’t already in the works, please somebody get on that!
- “Blood Sick” Fast and fun and classic Wednesday 13 (Change is hard, ok!), it has inspired the spider in my office to visit me repeatedly as I listen for the umpteenth time and try to write this review.
- “Condolences” You have to love an epic 7-minute song that begins with an almost music box melody, kicks into high gear and then pulls back again and again and ends as it began. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Lyrically written from the perspective of the dearly departed it is honest, raw and uncertain. I fear the next time that I pay my respects to someone when a loved one passes that I may very well end up singing “Sorry for your loss.ConDOLEnces” in the same somewhat sarcastic manner as the chorus.
- “Death Infinity” I cannot adequately express how much I love this one. It picks up lyrically where “Condolences” ends. Beautifully controlled in its musical execution (most especially the restrained guitar solo which I myself prefer to the let loose shredding sort), and strangely hopeful of what the mysteries of the after-life hold for us: “Falling from mortality, the darkness shines a light for me…” and “Falling. I’m so far beyond the grave that I can see the way.”; it is perhaps a reflection of Wednesday’s “falling from the flesh and bone” of his old musical self as he explores this new heavier direction; a little unsure but with an openness and willingness to see where it leads.
I follow eagerly, like a fly to the spider, to see what he has in store for us next.