Century Media Records are giving another push to the summer 2013 debut by LA quintet Butcher Babies to coincide with their tour of the UK supporting The Defiled. As we at TINAS didn’t review the release first time around we figured it was time we gave you our take on one of the most talked about bands of last year.
My first exposure to the band, was like a lot of people’s, through images appearing in magazines and on the internet. The virtually bare breasted front women Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd, covered in fake blood, prowling around on stage like a pair of Wendy O.Williams‘ for the Pussycat Dolls generation. They were unsurprisingly pulling in big crowds at festivals and my first reaction was that they were a gimmick band. Probably hired by the mean looking metal dudes behind them to generate a lot of interest amongst young (and not so young) metal fans. Damningly (or so I thought) both Harvey and Shepherd had past lives as actress/models with all the connotations you’d expect from that phrase in Los Angeles.
And then bored one day I sought their videos out on Youtube (yes, my girlfriend was out at the time) and I have to say I was pleasantly shocked. Butcher Babies, whatever their back story, do rock very hard indeed. The combined clean and harsh vocals of Shepherd and Harvey work very well together, never over-relying one style, and the guitar playing of Henry Flury (ex-Amen) is punchy and vicious. In fact Amen are probably the closest comparison in sound I can think of to Butcher Babies, although their admitted loves of Slipknot and old school thrash are also evident in the mix.
Perhaps the only failing across this consistently brutal album is a lack of memorable melodies. They do try for hooks, like on the clean vocal parts of ‘Magnolia Blvd’, but it is really only on title track ‘Goliath’ that the band manage to create a tune that sticks in your head after it’s boxed your ears. I do love the thrash vibe of ‘Give Me Reason’ that reminds me of the manic stylings of Forbidden, and ‘The Deathsurround’ wins your respect by just being out and out HEAVY. This is an album, however, that you can enjoy whilst it’s on, if you’re in the mood for hysterically pitched angst, but leaves very little impression once it’s over.
In terms of leaving an impression live, the ladies have said that the Wendy O.Williams nipple tape look is in the past. The cynic in me thinks that now that they’ve made a splash they think can concentrate on being a proper band, not just a sexy shock rock sideshow. That remains to be seen, but I like the bands sound and having dug a little deeper it seems that the front women are much more interesting and ‘real’ than I first suspected. I hope that the guys that come for the boobs stay for the tunes.
If you’re going to any of the shows I’m sure you’ll enjoy the music first and foremost, and it’s not hard to imagine Butcher Babies leaving The Defiled with a very tough act to follow.