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Dr. Mower's prognosis is...amputation. - 97%

hells_unicorn, June 27th, 2010

Earlier last week, on a pure fit of capriciousness, I sat through the entire “Hellraiser” series, including the brutally terrible sequels in the 2nd half of its 8 film entirety. During the climactic sequence of “Hellbound”, the rather elaborately mystical 2nd part of the series, I took note of the near invincible nature of the freakish villain Dr. Channard in his cenobite manifestation. Between the somewhat witty one-liners before letting lose his hyper-violent methods of death upon multitudes of mental patients, I began to wonder what sort of heavy metal song could hope to do justice to something as horrific, as surreal, and at times as quirky as it was. Recently I think I may have found the prime candidate in Halford’s latest single “The Mower”.

In all respects, this song is steeped in slowed down, simplistic cliché in the same manner that most of Fight’s material was. What little riff work is at play on here is present only for the purpose of establishing an atmosphere, and the resulting affect is something along the lines of a chorus of compactors in a nightmarish junkyard. The guitar tone is literally so heavy that it sounds like anvils being crushed under the weight of some otherworldly force. Combined with one of the creepiest narrated intros and a fair amount of ambient keyboard effects, the whole of the music surrounding the Judas Priest front man literally takes on a aura similar to the mystical labyrinth of hell featured prominently in the 2nd “Hellraiser” film.

But the true powerhouse that shakes this thing clear out of the realm of being just another groovy scare fest is the pummeling banshee wails that Halford just belts out like no tomorrow. He literally makes older ball busting anthems such as “Freewheel Burning” and “Blood Red Skies” sound tame in comparison to what he pulls off here. This couldn’t quite be qualified as singing in the general sense as there isn’t a single pretty moment in this beast, it’s just a non-stop assault of sonic blasts that remind all the imitators of just who rules this side of metal’s massive kingdom. If Halford himself were a cenobite, he wouldn’t need hooks or tentacles to spread havoc, he could literally dismember every weak-kneed poser with a single shout.

Although I wouldn’t characterize this as something that most would want to try and sing along with, this is a new classic that should not be dismissed by any fan of Halford’s lengthy career simply on the grounds that it doesn’t bust out into speed metal territory. Metal does not live by riffs alone, and occasionally a song can be carried completely by the sum of all its parts, or the power of the vocalist, or in this particular case both. Whatever comes to be of the soon to be released “Halford IV” release, you can rest assured that at least one of these songs will force itself into your long-term memory with little difficulty.