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Metal by itself is always on the verge of self-parody, whether you like it or not. So when you try to parody the genre, you usually end up enlarging things that make the genre so god damn awesome in the first place. Why else would you think the mockumentary 'This Is Spinal Tap' is especially successful among fans of the music it's making fun of? The Canadians of Zimmers Hole must have understood that simple theory and having a vast amount of experience in many not so subtle Metal bands - most notably Strapping Young Lad, of course - they have the luggage they need to magnify everything both awesome and ridiculous about Metal.
'When You Were Shouting At The Devil...We Were In League With Satan' is without any doubt the best Zimmers Hole album so far. The previous two albums definitely had their moments, but ultimately, the "parody bliss" value lost to the large amount of toilet humor. The latter is still available on this album and therefore still isn't perfect (since I really think that stuff like 'Anonymous Esophagus' and 'Fista Corps' suffer from their laugh-or-die mentality songwriting-wise), but the band really found out what they're best at: both mocking and honoring their favorite kind of music at the same time. A quick look on the track list already reveals that: songs like the title track, '1312' and 'Hair Doesn't Grow On Steel' reveal that they tackle the hilarious lyric writing of the likes of Manowar and any Black Metal band and they couple that with a musical approach that is so damn catchy that there's no escaping. These melodies cause sheer Metal euphoria!
Seriously, how can a band that writes the line "Exodus was fucking right: all the posers must die" do any wrong? That line is from the opening title track of the album which to me is one of the ultimate Metal tracks from 2008. The thrashy riffs (including the one "borrowed" from 'Bonded By Blood') and triumphant vocal and guitar melodies can't keep me from banging my head and smiling. The same goes for tracks like 'We Rule The Fucking Land' and the brilliant Manowar-pisstake 'Hair Doesn't Grow On steel'. Due to it's farting and off-key harmonica intro, 'The Devil's Mouth' seems to go down toilet humor territory, but then transforms in a song so mighty with a chorus so goosebumps inducing, that I can't help but loving the song. And if you're as into "biker Rock" as I am... Give 'Alright' a shot. You won't regret.
Of course, the musicianship of the quartet is superb. This is Gene Hoglan's first album with Zimmers Hole and although his predecessor Steve Wheeler wasn't too shabby, he really takes the compositions to a higher level. Jed Simon is all over this album with his brilliant riffing and melodies unheard on the majority of Strapping Young Lad's amazing stuff and Chris Valagao sometimes sounds so much like Devin Townsend, that you're sometimes wondering if you're not listening to a bunch of sequels to Strapping Young Lad's similar masterpiece 'Far Beyond Metal'.
'When You Were Shouting At The Devil...We Were In League With Satan' is an incredibly fun Metal album that enlarges every element you might like about Metal. If you're one of those conservative chagrins, don't bother, but even if you have the slightest sense of humor, you should give this a try. The album is not without its flaws, but worth hearing and enjoying!
There seems to be a massive conspiracy of sorts amongst some parties in trying to relive the spirit of “This Is Spinal Tap” in a more modern context, and all of them seem to involve the former thrash drummer icon turned mercenary for hire Gene Hoglan. Though Zimmers Hole is a band that goes back a bit further than Dethklok and parallels the path of the now defunct Strapping Young Lad model more so in terms of genre and personnel, their combination of lyrical antics and slavishness to cliché fit them into a similar mold to the former cartoon network sensation. At times it gets a tad too ridiculous, especially in the vocal presentation, but musically there is enough going on to keep things entertaining, provided one doesn’t mind a potpourri approach to an album’s genre leanings.
This latest album, which bears a title just a tad too long to mention (referencing two iconic albums from the opposite extremes of the early metal scene), attempts to bridge the divide between 1985 and 2007 musically, while the brand of toilet humor employed by vocalist/comedian Chris Valagao is noted for its post-Beavis And Butthead character. Woefully exaggerated imagery of steel wielding Manowar soldiers collide with a very modern take on speed/thrash, informed occasionally by a melodic death metal interchange here and there. This modern character is mostly manifest in the production values and, particularly, the overt heaviness of the drum production, in contrast to the archaic thunder with extra reverb heard out of Hoglan on “Leave Scars” and “Time Does Not Heal”. It maintains something of a retro feel in the riff clichés employed, giving it the illusion of an extreme power metal album by today’s standards, but the frequent use of grind-like screeches and morosely guttural barks skew this perception and bring back that latent melodic death tendency.
Song by song, this mixture of good humor and overdone buffoonery is dominated by a consistent presentation of comical simplicity and merciless catchiness. The blistering opener and title song takes a route of perpetual speed ala Hoglan’s double bass attack, and otherwise rides a very orthodox set of mostly single note oriented speed metal riffs that are close to the primitive nature of the early proto-thrash era of the early 80s, though expressed in a more present day mode of heaviness. Essentially Valagao is what makes this song work on an original level, going back and forth between his wide array of Gillian inspired wails, David Vincent brand demon barks and blackened ravings, invoking occasional images of Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”, yet somehow managing to be less ridiculous than what follows on the rest of the album. As the album unfolds, a sort of 3 way battle between pre-thrash heavy metal, thrash and modern melodeath ensues, with a fair number of winners and perhaps only a few losers, most of the latter hinging more on the vocals being overdone in a way that would make the likes of Jim Carrey and Gilbert Gottfried go “What the…?”
Where things really succeed here is when the band parodies the lyrical pursuits of metal and lay off the toilet humor and attempts at mocking the “behind the scenes” aspects of 80s metal culture. Examples such as “We Rule The Fucking Land”, “1312 – Zimmers Hole”, “Alright” and “Hair Doesn’t Grow On Steel” perfectly meld the musical and lyrical clichés of Manowar, Iron Maiden, Metallica and several others with an extreme presentation that is accessible to much of today’s audience. These riffs all have a striking familiarity to anyone acquainted with early thrash, yet have been exaggerated so much and steeped in so many flamboyant displays of vocal gymnastics that the songs sound like they exist in an entirely different wavelength. Unfortunately the band’s obsession with getting laughs no matter what it takes ruins what are otherwise inoffensive exercises in catchy metal, particularly in the cases of “Devil’s Mouth” and “Fista Corpse”, the latter of which seems to take some ideas from Maiden’s “Running Free”. The farting noises, goofy harmonica parts, and the dimwitted lyrics just drag things completely down, to speak nothing for the audaciously stupid and unfunny guest slot of Dethklok’s Nathan Explosion on “The Vowel Song”.
Zimmers Hole do a good number of things right on here, but this isn’t quite an adequate replacement for Strapping Young Lad, regardless to whether or not the latter was essentially played out and needed to be retired. There’s enough good music on here for this to have a shelf-life beyond the first couple of listens where some of these jesting moments might actually have some punch, but this doesn’t really rise to the level of those timeless parodies that can be revisited over and over and still inspire a smile and a giggle; say such films as “Airplane” and “Fatal Instinct”. This is more along the lines of a “Student Bodies”; it’s something that plays to those who are in love with hit or miss comedy with a few funny moments and also don’t mind the most iconic era of metal being mocked shamelessly.
The first time I heard this album I was at the Dethklok show in chicago. The sound guys were playing it before Dethklok came out, for the obvious reason of Nathan Explosion being on track 6. They played the entire album and I found myself headbanging to it before Dethklok came on. The next day I went to my local FYE and purchased this album..
I got in my car and popped in the cd. I heard the opening track before on youtube and knew what to expect. So, I sped up and listened to the other songs on the album. Skipped to track two and immediately was blown away by the double bass played by the genius Gene Hoglan. The entire song of "We Rule the Fucking Land" is excellent. It shows how extensive the Heathen's vocals can really become. The high pitched to low pitch vocals on this track are amazing.
As this album started playing and I got around half way through I noticed this album is described perfectly as Manowar mixed with with Strapping Young Lad due to the subject matter of metal and the high pitched vocal style of Devin Townsend. I can see why since he produced this album.
This album overall is absolutely hilarious. The lyrics are probably the funniest metal lyrics I have ever heard, next to Dethklok. For example, after Nathan Explosion (from the band Dethklok) rants about illiteracy in the US the lyrics to "The Vowel Song" start off as, "A, E, I, O, U..and sometimes Y!!" Also, in the first song, the constant bashing of Glam Rock is a must for any true metalhead.
I gave this album a 90 for the fact that it is hilarious, has excellent speed and thrash metal elements and is very unique in the ways of soloing and the high pitched vocals. I would have given it a 100, but after a while the songs start to sound the same and I find the vocals a tad too much like Townsend's.
Overall, it's a fantastic album that everyone must check out.
Imagine metal mixed with hilarious lyrics. This is exactly what Zimmer's Hole is. Add some death metal, thrash metal riffs and talent. What you get is this album. When I first listened to it I thought it was Tenacious D playing metal, yet even better. Essentially, that's exactly what it is: a great parody on rock stereotypes put on awesome music.
Whether something is funny or not is subjective, though personally I find it weird that there are metal fans who don't laugh a single time when hearing this. Nathan Explosion (a persona Brendon Small uses for his comedy band Dehtklok) features on one track, 'The Vowel Song'. In it, he tries to read an announcement, but fails due to limited reading skills. He changes the subject to masturbation, talks about 'huge knockers dangling in front of your face' and then a cool death metal part kicks in. Overall, one of the greatest (metal-)comedy songs ever.
All comedy aside, the music on this album is actually awesome too. Gene Hoglan, as usual, doesn't disappoint and provides great thrash/death styled drumming. Jed Simon proves that after all these years he can still come up with incredible thrash or death riffs, as well as the occasional good solo. Chris Valagoa on his account provides one of the highlights of this album: the vocals. He alternates between death growls, thrash styles singing and even falsettos. Because of this, the album is very varied and doesn't bore after a couple of tracks or even repeated listens.
'When you were shouting at the devil' is the best Zimmer's Hole record to date, though I think they can top it. It's funny and contains good music, what more could you want? I recommend this to all death and thrash metal fans who have a sense of humour.