Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Album Review: Butcher Babies' Goliath...Legit Metal Performance or Merely Playmates With Microphones?

If you’ve been keeping up on hard rock and metal, you have had to notice the Butcher Babies somewhere along the line.  Maybe it was paging through Revolver magazine.  Or seeing your friends’ Instagram feeds on the days when they went to this year’s Mayhem Fest.  Or passing by posters at your favorite metal club.

Somewhere in their travels, every metal fan has had their attention distracted by the four nicely-presented breastages of Butcher Babies’ frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey-Coates.  The question on the mind of many, though, was:  Are these girls musically legit or are they just Playboy models with microphones?

That question gets answered quite emphatically in the first few seconds of the Butcher Babies’ latest album, Goliath.  Shepherd and Harvey-Coates waste no time in delivering guttural growls, blood-curdling screams, and angry roars that would make Phil Anselmo proud.

But not all of the attention should be on the female members of the band or their vocals.  The music is amazingly brutal – metalcore at its finest. 

And don’t expect any reprieve as you listen to the album start-to-finish.  The music is consistently relentless from track 1 through track 11. 

Highlights include the opening opus, “I Smell A Massacre,” which sets the stage nicely for the aural onslaught that follows; “Grim Sleeper,” which demonstrates that Shepherd and Harvey-Coates can sing in well-orchestrated (can’t say “pretty” in the context of this raging madness) harmonies; and the shuffle-beat heaviness that is “Axe Wound.”

If there is one thing that Goliath is not, it’s mainstream.  While others in their genre may throw some songs on their records that balance metal mayhem with the occasional, radio-friendly, soaring chorus melody, Butcher Babies flips the finger to that approach.  “The Mirror Never Lies” is perhaps the song with the most melodic chorus on the album, but that doesn’t give enough of a pause in the assault to allow the tune to become a crossover hit.  Butcher Babies seem to know who their audience is – a testosterone-fueled contingent who think taking a break from an hour-long circle pit is for the weak – and they cater to that audience with every note of this masterpiece.

In some ways, Goliath hearkens back to the early days of Metal Blade Records, with its relatively thin-sounding production and absence of the kind of hooks that enable one to sing a song back after hearing it only once.  However, the aggression of the music and the animalistic vocals of Shepherd and Harvey-Coates more than make up for any deficiencies.  Butcher Babies is definitely a band to keep an eye on…and, by “keep an eye on,” I’m talking about more than just admiring what’s overflowing from the frontwomen’s metal-studded corsets.