Phil Anselmo does not need any introduction, as his status is well known to pretty much anyone who’s into metal music. His reputation as a frontman of a bunch of big names – such as PANTERA, DOWN, SUPERJOINT, and some of his most recent projects such as SCOUR and PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS – surely raises some expectations towards his not-exactly-new band called EN MINOR. In fact, it took some time for the album to reach its final form, despite some of the songs have been written a long time ago, when Anselmo was very young.
”When the Cold Truth has Worn its Miserable Welcome Out,” released via Anselmo’s Housecore Records in North America and via Season of Mist in Europe on 4 September 2020, is a shared effort of a few musicians already known in the environment, such as Jimmy Bower and Kevin Bond, among others.
Although this is not a metal album, it is heavy… a heaviness that comes from a dark place that makes it thick, intense, and melancholic. ”Depression-core” seems to be the best way to define the genre to which it belongs, where the deep baritone register of Anselmo perfectly blends into a blues-like kind of mood – which is not a new thing, considering the long and multifaceted career of the singer, but now it does find a wider space to express itself at its best.
The opening is a slow tune called ”Mausoleums,” which recalls a profound sense of loss and hopelessness also in the lyrics: ”Love is but a word, and I’m finding it hard to believe…” The clever use of cello, played by multi-talented artist Steve Bernal, is one of the highlights of the album: never cheesy, always dramatic, in a well-balanced way.
A massive influence of Tom Waits’ music is detectable since the very beginning, but it’s particularly present in the second track, ”Blue.” The obsessive rhythm and the almost spoken vocals are reminiscent of ”Rain Dogs,” an album by Tom Waits which I consider one of the cornerstones in the genre. ”On the Floor” drags the listener down, starting from the title; super low vocals and a classic blues structure make the song hauntingly beautiful in its simplicity. Topics such as addiction to medications against chronic pain and the related sense of hopelessness are the red thread that makes this album so deeply submerged in depression, here expressed in a more down-to-earth way: it’s about real life stories, brilliantly chronicled and transformed into gut-wrenching songs.
Exotic vibes are detectable in ”Dead Can’t Dance,” where a successful combination of Tom Waits and Nick Cave’s impact is pretty clear, especially in the rhythmic pattern and in the vocals. A feeling of ineluctable anguish finds its way in ”Love Needs Love” thanks to a smart combination of cello, accordion, and guitar, while Anselmo’s voice sounds almost like a sad lullaby, able to take the listener into a calm yet unbearable sense of despair. Meanwhile, psychedelic and dreamy vibes are present in ”Warm Sharp Bath Sleep,” which is reminiscent of some of Mark Lanegan’s later production.
”Melancholia” feels like Anselmo is singing in the listener’s room, fromquite nearby. The general sensation is that melancholy is an old, well-known feeling that nobody can really get rid of, not even at an adult age. In that sense, there is a lot of NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS in the approach, while musically speaking both Leonard Cohen and Johnny Cash seem to be a massive yet balanced reference point.
The energetic flow in ”This is Not Your Day” is reminiscent of some DOWN tunes, with a sprinkle of MAD SEASON’s typical bluesy vibe, while ”Black Mass” – also due to a notable guitar solo – proves that a primeval music genre such as blues, as ”contaminated” as it can be, still has a lot of creative potential. ”Hats Off” takes the listener into a western movie -like atmosphere where Anselmo’s vocals blend in the creepy and obsessive sound of keys and guitar, providing a further level of anxiety.
The last song on the album, ”Disposable for You,” shows a more experimental attitude, sounding like two or three songs in one that are united by a subtle yet persistent sense of melancholy and loneliness as feelings come and stay in many shapes, based on which stage of life the listener is in.
In conclusion, ”When the Cold Truth has Worn its Miserable Welcome Out” is an album able to show a different non-metal and more vulnerable side of Phil Anselmo as a musician. The band draws copiously from one of the most representative American music genres, the blues, but has a fresh yet well-elaborated approach, which is possible thanks to a line-up that can be easily labeled as a ”dream team.”
Written by Licia Mapelli
- On the Floor
- Dead can’t Dance
- Love Needs Love
- Warm Sharp Bath Sleep
- This is not your Day
- Black Mass
- Hats Off
- Disposable for You
Philip H. Anselmo – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Kevin Bond – Acoustic, Electric Guitar, Bass
Stephen Taylor – Guitar
Calvin Dover – Keyboards
Joiner Dover – Bass
Steve Bernal – Cello
Jimmy Bower – Drums
Season of Mist