When Jerry Only and Glenn Danzig taught a 16-year old Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein how to play guitar, they changed music forever. The sound of Doyle slamming his right hand onto the strings of the Annihilator, his custom axe, is unmistakable, identifiable, and celebrated. Considered the creator of an entire genre, Doyle and company paved the way for hundreds of bands inspired by Horror Punk. So why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to review this legend’s newest CD II As We Die?
Premiere track “Kiss Me as We Die” ushers in this collection of thirteen songs. It opens with an eerie, and instantly recognizable guitar riff leading into a distinct Doyle hammering. The emotive tone is matched, nay elevated, by vocalist Alex Story of Cancerslug. As a (trick or) treat, Doyle’s girlfriend and Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz brings some heavenly backing vocals to this track, once again proving this queen of scream is the owner of the most masterful instrument in the metal world.
Wicked energy prevails throughout II As We Die, but there are a few slight reprieves from the beating. The intro to “Darkside” is bone chillingly beautiful. It’s a haunting strum followed by an infectious drum and bass line, establishing a rhythm so solid it possesses you. I’d call it the “feel good track” of the CD but the lyrics are pure evil, as the genre is known to do. Follow-up tune “Witchcraft” is slightly less disturbing and has a hip-swagger come hither command. “We Belong to The Dead” is a rockabilly feature tune invoking visions of no-good punks holed up in a cemetery making blood pledges and rolling cigarettes, while ducking from the cops and stirring up a shit storm. (Oh, to be young again.)
Story’s vocals keep the blood-curdling mood intact, singing low, screaming loud, and delivering images my nightmares hadn’t considered before listening to II As We Die. Each track is a chapter in the latest installment by the progenitor of Horror Punk. Other noteworthy tracks include “Virgin Sacrifice,” featuring Lamb of God‘s Randy Blythe, and “Blood on the Axe,” which is the most apropos title a Doyle song could ever announce. II As We Die released 6/2 and Doyle is out there touring with it, in case you’re brave enough to take this on live … and you particularly enjoy sleeping with the lights on.