Review: Wednesday 13 – Condolences
Written by Elliot John Doe
Wednesday 13 is no stranger to the music industry, having released a mix of horror themed rock, punk and metal since 1992 with his first band Maniac Spider Trash before forming The Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 in ‘96. Later in 2001 Wednesday was invited to play bass for Joey Jordison’s side project The Rejects which saw Wednesday taking over vocal duties and transforming the band along with Joey & Tripp Eisen into the Murderdolls which bought him and his music to a much wider audience. 2005 saw the release of Wednesday’s first solo album, now 12 years later, and after several side projects and reunions, we get to feast upon the 7th solo studio album from this horror metal icon.
Kicking off in classic Wednesday 13 style we encounter an eerie intro track titled ‘Last Rites’ filled with a very ‘80’s horror movie score vibe, which is the perfect set-up for what was the first promo video ‘What The Night Brings.’ This one is a spook-heavy, doom-metal anthem, full of crunchy riffs and squealing leads led by head banging drums with sporadically placed double pedal. A bass breakdown adds some extra creepiness amongst Wednesday’s whispers before bringing back that chanting chorus.
‘Cadaverous’ starts with an old Wednesday 13 foray of an audio sample before things get amped up with a meaty riff, soon to be joined by the rest of the band sending things into a hair swinging, thrash infused, fist pumper of a track. The heavy rhythm section and filtered vocals in the verses make for bigger punches from the guitars and the solo is a rock ‘n’ roll ripper. Classic Wednesday lyrics can be heard, especially the words like ‘Hearse,’ ‘Casket,’ ‘Cemetery’ and ‘Corpse.’ This one is sure to become a sing-a-long staple in the live set!
Freaky guitar squeals open up ‘Blood Sick’ (which was the second promo video) before the big riffs smash on to the scene, creating perfect harmony. This is by far my favorite track so far; it has that darker, heart-felt twist to it, yet still oozing with a horror vibe. It’s somewhat reminiscent of some of Wednesday’s early solo songs like ‘Haunt Me’ or ‘Skeletons,’ but with a twist and updated to match the feel of the band today.
‘Good Riddance’ is another thundering metal beast, full of pounding toms and double kicks from the drums, chugging riffery and catchy vocals. More of those ever prominent guitar squeals add that spook-tastic flavor to the mix and another classic rock solo. Solid work!
‘You Breathe, I Kill’ wastes no time in crashing through the walls and straight into your eardrums with another upbeat thrasher, apart from Wednesday’s raspy vocals this could quite easily come out of one of today’s modern metal titans like In Flames or Lamb Of God. Luckily we are treated to the band’s macabre view and chorus of heavy chant of the track’s title.
‘Omen Amen’ is a chugging juggernaut; dark, heavy and bluesy with hair swinging riffs and enough double kick to knock you around for hours. The subject matter here takes on religion and one of metal’s biggest accolades, The Devil. Adding in a few more samples just for fun and you’ve got yourself a great modern metal Wednesday 13 song!
‘Cruel to You’ explores that more fun-loving punk side of Wednesday’s music on this track, not to mention the hilarious comic strip themed music video to go with it. A chirpy riff backed with a steady beat, complemented with guitar and bass riffs that work perfectly. A big sing along chorus filled with that tongue-in-cheek aspect we’ve come to know and love.
‘Eulogy XIII’ is an interim audio track drenched ‘70’s/’80’s horror-esque movie score magic. Samples, random pounds of the drums and a resounding synth round everything out, before…
‘Prey for Me’ comes slaying in with a heavy as hell off beat riff; an extreme darkness descends throughout the entire track, bass heavy verses and tempo changes splattered all over the place. The chorus chugs along in almost a European-metal inspired vein and the solo guitars are quite un-suspecting, keeping the classic rock feel but it fits amazingly well over the riffs.
On ‘Lonesome Road to Hell’ we fall back into the vibe of some earlier works, the darkness of horror-punk encapsulated but with a brilliant heaviness. A haunting sing along chorus will have fists pumping and the solo is dripping with classic ‘13 style.
A relentless outro rings out into the title track of ‘Condolences,’ which is kicked off with a Danny Elfman-esque piano that you can just imagine being played by the dearly departed horror icon Vincent Price. Soon heaven is torn asunder by gigantic swaying guitars that soon fade into a surprising turn of clean guitar and whispered vocals, bringing back the blood curdling piano to the mix adds a powerful entrance for the drums and guitars. The sludgy doom feel envelopes this track and carries across a great empowerment of evil in the music and emotion in the vocals/lyrics. Once again an oddly placed rockin’ solo just happens to work so well. Chugging guitars and drums fade out in the outro as they’re accompanied by the haunting piano that plays perfectly into the last track……
‘Death Infinity’ that begins with another bout of clean guitar, the chorus hits in with a big, empowering, cathartic feel that could quite easily be placed with an epic symphonic metal band. The verses and leads embellish upon the intro but in a heavier style that kind-of hints to some of those 80’s hair-metal bands that have so vehemently inspired Mr.13 over the years. A strange but well melded balance of dark metal and classic rock on this one, but why did it have to fade out so soon!?
Overall I just can’t complain, I’ve been a big fan for years, but the last few works haven’t really blown me away, on this latest release though I think it’s safe to say that this could be one of Wednesday 13’s best works to date! Transylvania 90210 set the scene and Skeletons was a kick-ass album, truthfully ‘Condolences’ is high up there, the song-writing, the musicianship, the lyrical content and the clear vision of what this is going to bring to the table on a live platform. Not to mention the heaviness, it was promised and it was bought. How can I not give this a 10/10