Review: Wednesday 13 – ‘Necrophaze’

Wednesday 13The Duke Of Spook, otherwise known as Wednesday 13, doesn’t tend to do things half-heartedly. It’s all in, or nothing at all. But with ‘Necrophaze’ he has surpassed any lofty expectations that anyone had once the album was announced. Album number two for new label Nuclear Blast, ‘Necrophaze’ is the perfect example of why physical product will never go quietly into the distance. Through door number one; the John Carpenter inspired CD sleeve. Door number two; the ‘Creepshow’ inspired comic book artwork on the vinyl version. Both, labours of love from a bonafide horror aficionado. The vinyl edition is manna from heaven for those of us who buy two copies, one to play and one to keep sealed, it is truly stunning.

What about the music on offer though? Does it match the high quality of the drool-inducing packaging? Why yes, yes it does, and then some. Horror and humour go hand in hand; ‘Tucker & Dale vs Evil’, ‘Zombieland’, ‘Shaun Of The Dead’, just three choice examples of the genres (monster) mashing-up, and we haven’t even got to anything Troma related yet. ‘Necrophaze’ is the aural equivalent of all of these. Sinister, witty and with a wry sense of humour. In fact the only thing missing is Elvira Mistress Of The Dark introducing the album. That job falls to the ringmaster of the Grand Guignol himself – Alice Cooper.

Even before Coop ushers in the album in his own inimitable style on the title track, another guest performer has made his mark. Roy Mayorga from Stone Sour puts down his drumsticks and flexes his fingers with an ‘80’s inspired synth sound that would surely have John Carpenter nodding with approval. The Master of Horror purring with delight that his influence is still alive and kicking decades after ‘The Fog’ and ‘Escape From New York’. Cooper could read from a David Walliams novel and make it sound creepy, here he sounds like he is having a ball. Then the drums kick in – oh my! Drummer Kyle Castronovo certainly makes his presence felt on the opening number, and you just know that his father (and the best drummer/vocalist around today) Deen is screaming a hearty “hellyeah!”. Castronovo Jr also helped out by initially bringing the first single ‘Decompose’ to the table –  ‘Game Of Thrones’ tribute on the intro to this one perhaps?

The humour first appears on ‘Bring Your Own Blood (BYOB)’, which gives new meaning to the phrase “bring your own bottle”. A homage to the classic Horror movie imagery of a party gone wrong, it’s a fun romp which Wednesday 13 himself describes as “sort of a more violent ‘Monster Mash.’”. ‘Zodiac’ has more of a sinister vibe, more of those atmospheric synths, and more killer drums from Castronovo. The rasping vocals from The Duke are as creepy as ever, and (product placement alert) if you are listening through a decent pair of Sennheiser cans, then it’s like he is sitting alongside you. The guitar work from Roman Surman and Jack Tankersley, along with bassist Troy Doebbler, is on point, especially the thrash-meets-industrial riffing towards the end that sounds like a speeding car. ‘Monster’ explodes to life with one of the most instant intros heard this year, the stellar production from Michael Spreitzer making it larger-than-life. Add guest vocals from Christina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil into the mix and you have a fresh, vibrant few minutes.

The spoken word ‘Be Warned’ (complete with melancholic piano) leads into the mesmerizing epic – ‘The Hearse’, and you can just see the heads of the front few rows bobbing in unison like severed heads in a barrel. The synths give the track an extra dimension, and bring it an incredible atmospheric edge. ‘Life Will Kill Us All’ is a warning on modern day life and the message is clear. The delivery of the message is played out over a massive cinematic explosion of driving riffs and pulsating drums, it’s like an orchestra of guitars. The high-energy pacing continues on ‘Bury The Hatchet’ (no prizes for guessing where the hatchet is getting buried) before the album ends with ‘Necrophaze Main Theme (End Credits)’ and a totally gonzo romp through ‘Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)’ complete with a guest appearance from Alexi Laiho of Children Of Bodom.

Easily the strongest Wednesday 13 album for some time now, and on this evidence, the new lives shows will be killer.

Available now through Nuclear Blast.

Review – Dave

Catch Wednesday 13 on tour now, all tour dates available here.

 

 

 

 

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