• El Minor - When The Cold Truth Has Worn Its Miserable Welcome Out (Housecore Records) Album Review



    Released by: Housecore Records
    Released on: September 4th, 2020.
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    It isn’t often I get baffled, but here it is. Phil Ansemelo - the mouth that roared from PANTERA and also known for his many side projects that tended to be some form of extreme metal or hardcore or death metal like SUPERJOINT RITUAL - has released a project that sounds like... Leonard Cohen mugged by Satan’s Death metal Orchestra? With guest vocals by Nick Cave?

    It isn’t easy to unpack this thing but let’s start with the basic set up. So we have Phil on guitar and vocals, two other guitarists and a cello player. That’s right you are reading this correctly. A cello player. Then we have a drummer, a keyboardist, a bassist, and someone that provides additional percussion. That’s eight people playing on this record. Which is pretty amazing considering the stripped down sound on display here. It honestly sounds like a two-man project.

    Opener “Mausoleums” sets the mood. Some clean acoustic sounding guitar picking kicks the song off and Ansemelo pipes in with a borderline death metal vocal. The funny thing about the vocal approach is how much it mixes the death metal sound with the roughest aspects of gravel voiced singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave. This is a great example of something that is truly heavy in intent but not necessarily so much in execution. “Blue” is almost a peppy shuffle but here Phil is in even gruffer vocal form. It’s a fine line between parody and genuine intensity when you’re dealing with this kind of music and I honestly can’t tell which side of the line this one will fall on for most listeners. Is this the punchline of a bad joke about Willie Nelson getting brain damage and playing death metal or is it a genuinely innovative twist on musical genres? You’ll have to decide!

    ‘On The Floor” is a pretty song with a black metal heart and more of the vocal approach that defines this record. There’s some very nice guitar twang on this number. The most traditional track is “Dead Can’t Dance” which sounds like an ambient track you would hear in a rave club. There’s some lovely cascading tones here that sound like a zither. Other interesting signposts on this strange road are “Warm Bath Sharp Sleep” with its a cappella start and interesting vocal melody. “This Is Not Your Day” has a weird strain of THIN LIZZY in it with its martial pace and insistent melody - it could be the southern fried acoustic death metal cousin of THIN LIZZY’s “Massacre”. “Hats Off” is unabashed swamp rock that should’ve had a damn banjo on it. Closer ‘Disposable For You’ has the album’s best vocal line and Phil’s most emotional performance.



    While I’ve touched on a large part of the album’s musical structure, it is also worth noting that there’s a huge Cajun/Louisiana/Southern bayou influence on this project. Phil has talked about this in the promotional lead up to the record’s release, saying that there are large parts of it that were influenced by the music he heard as a child in Louisiana. You can definitely hear those influences on the album.

    So how does this stack up for the listener? I’m not really sure. I’ve played the record numerous times as I’ve tried to get a handle on it and I will say that it becomes more interesting with each repeated listen. Whether the Ansemelo fan-base is eclectic enough to embrace this fairly radical project is something I can’t really answer. For the more musically adventurous I would say this is very much a worthwhile listen. For the rest of you I would suggest you listen to some samples first.

    EN MINOR is:

    Philip H Anselmo: Guitar, Vocals
    Stephen Taylor: Guitar
    Kevin Bond: Guitar
    Steve Bernal: Cello
    Jimmy Bower: Drums
    Calvin Dover: Keyboards, Backing Vocals
    Joiner Dover: Bass
    Jose Gonzalez: Additional Percussion