Thursday, July 18, 2013

Music Review: The Casket Creatures' new album Sex, Blood, & Rock 'n Roll

The lunatics from the sticks are back!  That's right, The Casket Creatures are proudly carrying the torch for southern monster rock with their new album Sex, Blood, & Rock ‘n Roll.  Their first album, Tales From The Unknown,  announced that this was a band to take notice of.  With Sex, Blood, & Rock ‘n Roll, the boys from Gainesville, Ga have established themselves as a true force to be reckoned with.

Ever since The Misfits laid the groundwork for the genre, certain things have been expected of a horror punk band.  Lyrics based on horror movies and murder.  Sing along choruses.  Fast, powerful riffs.  A heavy backbeat.  Those looking for these tried and true crowd-pleasing elements will find them here.  But, as with bands like The Other, The Crimson Ghosts, Order of the Fly, or The Bloodsucking Zombies From Outer Space, the bands that rise to the top of the genre are those who take those tropes and use them to forge a unique sound of their own.  On this album, The Creatures’ sound has solidified, and the band seems to have found their identity.

The current lineup: Cliff, Ryan, Derek, Jamie, & Dakota
The first thing you’ll notice about the album is how much the guys have grown since their first release.  Tales was a damn good album.  SB&RNR, on the other hand, is a great one.  The level of maturation evident in the songwriting is amazing.  The band has really honed their craft.  Ryan Howard has zeroed in on his signature vocal style, which I would describe as a “crooning growl.”  It’s both melodic and intense, and the backing vocals mesh well on the obligatory “whoa-oh-oh’s.”  The dual guitar attack of Derek Obscura and Jamie Robertson is dead on.  The riffs are outstanding, and the sub-par soloing you find in a lot of horrorpunk bands is replaced by some high energy and inventive leads.  The Brothers Chandler (Drew and Bradley), who have since amicably parted ways with the band, more than hold up the rhythm section’s end of the bargain and provide a sturdy backbone for the beast. 

The second thing you’ll notice is that the production is top notch.  The music sounds fantastic.  Kudos to Ty Watkins (recording) and James Nation (mixing).  It’s very rare to find an independently made album that sounds this good.

The third thing, and what I think really sets The Casket Creatures apart from lesser bands, is the overall atmosphere that comes across in their music.  Far too many bands of this ilk take themselves WAY too seriously.  Aside from the quality of the music, the thing that makes their live shows so exciting is that you can tell the guys are having a blast doing their thing.  That energy and attitude comes across well on the record.  They sound like they’re having a good time without sacrificing any of the aggression of the music, and that makes the album a lot of fun to listen to.

So, what are the standout tracks?  That’s really hard to say.  If the radio was actually relevant enough to play music like this, I think there would be two songs competing for the spot as the big hit single.  “Lizzie’s Song” is the very definition of a brain worm.  It will firmly plant itself in your head and refuse to leave.  You’ll forget about it for a while after listening to it, and then in a calm, quiet moment you’ll catch yourself singing the “Lizzie’s been a bad girl” refrain and bopping your head.  While “Lizzie” is probably the catchiest song on the album, “A Step Ahead of Death” is technically the best.  It’s pretty damn close to being the perfect horror punk song.  Classic movie sample, memorable riff, chorus you can’t help singing along with, awesome solo… it’s just the total package.  Either of these songs easily have the potential to be The Casket Creature’s “Last Caress” or “Somewhere in a Casket.”  If you know what songs I’m talking about, go buy this album immediately just on principle.

It’s tough to single those songs out because there are so many great ones here.  There really isn’t a weak link among them.  "B-Movie Massacre" is a bad-ass tune.  One of the bonus tracks, “Graves” is a Lugosi’s Morphine cover.  Please, for the love of all things unholy don’t tell Lugosi’s Morphine I said this because I love that band, but this version is better than the original.  They infused it with their own style and turned an already great song into a bona-fide anthem.  Every year a big part of my Halloween tradition is making a new disc of holiday related music to listen to coming and going to various haunted houses.  I can’t wait to put their Oct. 31 ode “Devil’s Day” on this year’s edition.  I love “Vulture Eye.”  “Bats, Blood, and Bitches” is the perfect opener.  “Black Widow Bride” is a completely unexpected surprise and a rarity in the genre, a great duet.  Hell, the whole damn album is excellent.

If you put a gun to my head and made me pick a least favorite track, it would actually be a rerecording of “Agnes,” a Casket Creatures favorite.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the song itself.  It’s actually the same problem I had when Blitzkid rerecorded “My Dying Bride,” my favorite song by them, on Anatomy of Reanimation. I dig the rawer version of Agnes on Tales From The Unknown so much that I feel the slicker production actually works against the song.  It’s still a great tune, I’m just so used to the original that it sounds weird to me.  If the only issue I had with the album is that one of the songs sounds TOO good, then that’s definitely a rich problem to have.

 To sum it all up, this is the best American horror punk disc I’ve heard in years.  Their sophomore album sets The Casket Creatures on par with the elite of the horror rock scene.  There may be bigger bands, but you won’t find one doing it any better.  I’m not just saying that because they’re members of the extended SOC family either.  Trust me, if it sucked I’d say so.  Sex, Blood, and Rock & Roll is a satisfying slab of sonic sickness that deserves, no... DEMANDS  a spot in any serious horror punk fan’s collection. 
So now that you know you have to own this album, that just leaves one issue to address; how do you get it?  Well, there are several options.  It’s available on itunes.  You could go over to and enter to win a copy during The Casket Creatures’ month long takeover.  You could hit the band up on facebook HERE and inquire about how to get one.  Or, my personal recommendation, you could go see them live and pick one up from them at the show.  Your next chance will be this Saturday at Sweetwater in Duluth, Ga.  If you live in the vicinity, come rock out with the ‘ol Son of Celluloid and your new favorite band.  However you decide to get it, get it quick because when the rest of the world catches on to these guys and they become ghoul rock heroes, you’ll want to be able to say “I was into them way back when.”  
It’s become almost fashionable amongst horror hipsters in recent years to proclaim, “True horror punk is dead.”  I’m calling bullshit.  As long as The Casket Creatures roam the earth, killer rock and roll shot through with macabre madness will continue to ravage your eardrums and provide the soundtrack for all of our killing sprees.

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