There's just something about Philip Anselmo that most metal fans don't get. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that even most of those hardcore Pantera fans don't fully understand the motives and direction that Anselmo takes half the time. More than just about any other musician in metal history, Anselmo is the single guy that has taken a lot of varied metal styles to the masses. Through his notoriety as a legend with Pantera, Anselmo has been able to introduce much more extreme types of metal to the majority of metalheads that would probably have never listened otherwise. Speaking only for myself, my first exposure to such varied music as Anal Cunt, Necrophagia, Christ Inversion, Arson Anthem and Superjoint Ritual all came SOLELY because of Anselmo's involvement with those projects. It has NOTHING to do with any music at all that I heard prior to picking up those releases. To be honest, I haven't liked all of it, but I don't think that's really what it's about for Anselmo anyway. To his credit, he lives and dies metal...all kinds of metal...and he is out to create as much of it as humanly possible.
With WALK THROUGH EXITS ONLY, Anselmo has teamed with a new collection of musicians to create a dirty, angry and somewhat disjointed metal barrage that features no melody to speak of. A lot of people will compare this to Superjoint Ritual, but that's pretty much a false representation of what is going on here. Unlike Superjoint, there's virtually no moments here where you can follow along with an even pulse to headbang to. Instead, it's just 8 doses of pure violence, with Anselmo leading the charge with some of his most guttural vocal performances ever captured. Listening to a song like "Betrayed", there's just a blistering pace that drives the song, before ending almost like Faith No More's "Epic" with a soft piano moment to completely confuse the entire pace of the song. For the most part, the music stays as little more than a concentrated frenzy throughout. Songs like "Usurper's Bastard Rant" are as close to a Pantera like vibe as you might find; with some cool guitar work and aggression that might have fit next to some of the heavier songs on THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL. Guitarist Marzi Montezari is a vicious player who creates monstrous riffs throughout the entire disc. Without question, drummer Jose Manual Gonzales is the standout performer on the disc. His unbelievable speed, and change on a dime speed changes on songs like "Walk Through Exits Only" is far better than anything Anselmo has ever been associated with (at least, that I've heard...he's been in so many project and I honestly can't say I've heard them all).
PITRIFF RATING - 88/100 - I give this a strong rating, but I do so with a warning. This release is simply not for everyone. If you are not wide open to what you define as metal, and you have any sort of level of how heavy a music you can tolerate, then you should pass on this. For those that like to test their limits though and like their metal far angrier than the best Megadeth or Metallica ever delivered, this is something you can really sink your teeth into. WALK THROUGH EXITS ONLY is a seriously cool release. It's brutal as fuck, but that's the intention. I can't stop listening to it.