The roots of En Minor go back as far as Phil Anselmo’s youth, the time when as a nine year old he got his first guitar, planting the seeds of songs and ideas he would return to at various point over the decades. Anselmo is obviously primarily known for his Pantera and Down, but En Minor has nothing to do with metal at all.
The first tangible incarnation of what these songs could sound like came in 1993 when he formed Body & Blood with his buddy from Down, the mighty Crowbar axeman Kirk Windstein along with Kevin Bond as a getaway from all the metal madness. Nothing was ever released though and the project fell silent again.
Fast forward again two decades when Anselmo got on board with Steve Taylor who joined as bass player for Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals and Superjoint, formerly known as Superjoint Ritual. Now Taylor is not just a badass bass player, he has also been part of the American Gothic of Sixteen Horsepower and later Wovenhand with David Eugene Edwards as a guitarist.
And these dark folk roots hit a lot closer to home when listening to En Minor. Together they reworked some of the old Body & Blood songs and wrote new ones with this debut album as its result. Next to Taylor, we’re seeing some other familiar faces from Anselmo’s past. Guitarist Kevin Bond is still with him from Superjoint and the ol’ B & B days, as well as on drums Jimmy Bowers, from Down and, of course, Eyehategod.
The first thing that stands out on ‘When the Cold Truth Has worn its Miserable Welcome Out’, is how different Anselmo’s voice sounds. There is not a trace of his metal persona to be found here. In fact, unless you’re quite familiar with his normal speaking voice, you would never guess this is the guy who sang ‘Walk’. He delivers his vocals with an almost unbearably heavy sense of gravitas, which give the material a superbly dramatic, somber flair. Without any vulgar display of power, his voice is full of brooding melancholy, akin to for instance King Dude or even the man in black himself, Johnny Cash.
Right of the bat of the opener ‘ Mausoleums’ , you’re knocked to the ground on how sincerely and sad and genuine this music sounds. A touch of Americana floats over these songs. Not as overtly Appalachian as Taylor was used to in his time with Edwards, but it is unmistakably there amidst the gently strummed guitars and cello along with the bluesy ghost of the New Orleans delta and the shady night clubs of a film noir.
Even if you’ve never liked anything Anselmo ever put out, just check this out. You might just see this artist in a completely different light.
Release Date: September 4 2020
Label: Season of Mist
- On the Floor
- Dead Can’t Dance
- Love Needs Love
- Warm Sharp Bath Sleep
- This is Not Your Day
- Black Mass
- Hats Off
- Disposable for You