By Bill Adams
You have to love and respect the bravery some bands obviously possess when they call themselves a metal band. The trend of feminizing metal – the most hyper-masculine musical genre in popular song – has been going on for at least three decades now and, in that time, it practice has proven to be the comic gift that keeps on giving; the Eighties begat hair metal and other novelty bands like Jackyl and Stryper, and portions of the “metal” community have sort of swirled ’round the drain ever since. That isn’t to say “heavy metal” doesn’t still exist, only that a greater-than-ever number of hard rock bands are being unfortunately mis-categorized as metal. Take Murderdolls for example – a band who, as torturously dark and potentially demented as they might appear on the cover of Women And Children Last, are really only about as dangerous as the combination of a can of hairspray and a Bic lighter might be in practice; either could hurt you, but only if you’re monumentally stupid.
To their credit, the band does try to front it pretty hard – in the beginning. As “The World According To Revenge” opens and singer Wednesday 13 croaks out the words “Scum, filth, anger and greed,” listeners might start to get a little tingle; it sounds a little dark and the cacophony of sick laughter that follows it might raise the hair on a few necks. The obligatory tolling church bell that opens “Chapel Of Blood” immediately thereafter feels right too; until the whole thing turns south in all the wrong ways as lyrics like “You got blood?/We’ll take it!/Come on in – into the chapel of blood”
To quote Howard The Duck, “This does not bode well.”
Standing back from the mess that the early playing of the record quickly devolves into, it can be said (and this is the only praise I’ve got for the first part of the record) that not everything about Women And Children Last is terrible. Joey Jordison’s potent, grinding guitar at least does his previous work with Slipknot and Rob Zombie some justice but, where those acts can and do make metal dangerous enough to resemble a snuff film, the early playing of Women And Children Last plays like a Hollywood horror at its’ most mawkish and comical and much of the onus for that falls on Wednesday 13’s vocals (check out lines like “I’m making a list of who shouldn’t exist” from “Bored ‘Til Death”); they’re pretty pitiful.
If the record continued in this fashion, it would be easy enough to write Women And Children Last off as the latest updated incarnation of the “Hollywood shit shingle” for the new millennium but, happily, Murderdolls have the sense to play WITH their obvious stigma instead of trying to fight it.
That might sound contrary, but it really isn’t. Playing TO expectation keeps Murderdolls from making their obvious shortcomings even worse so, while Women And Children Last isn’t a good “metal” album, it could at least be seen as a decent hard rock or hair metal record. Songs like “Drag Me To Hell,” “Nowhere,” “Summertime Suicide” and “Nothing’s Gonna Be Alright” are all fluffy, glossy and well-coifed speed rock that owes a debt to staple shlock-masters like Poison and Motley Crue and that’s fine enough as long as no one expects anything senses-shattering to hit their ears. Simply said, if you’re up for a taste of the new shlock, Murderdolls are your band; as long as there’s the expectation in place beforehand that what listeners are going to get is formulaic, there’s no hope of being let down by Women And Children Last.
Bill Adams is the editor in chief of groundcontrolmag.com