Butcher Babies: Goliath

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Butcher Babies: Goliath
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Butcher Babies: Goliath
Alternative Metal, Groove Metal
Century Media Records
July 9th, 2013
Release length: 42:20
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Butcher Babies has been making plenty of waves throughout the Metal and Alternative communities, and not just for the sexuality the female members bring to the stage. This Los Angeles, California based group plays a mixture of Alternative Metal and Groove Metal, taking a good deal of inspiration from the early group The Plasmatics in more than just naming the group after a song of theirs. On stage and in some videos, you’ll find nods to vocalist Wendy Williams, most notably the black electrical tape x’s to hide the nipples that would otherwise be exposed. This approach and their self-titled self-released EP in 2012 earned the group a loyal fanbase, and eventually a Century Media contract for their debut full-length album, Goliath. With a video for “Mr. Slowdeath” and a few lyric videos building plenty of attention, does this five-piece stand as more than just eye candy, or is that really all this act has going for them?

With influences from Slipknot to Pantera made blatently obvious, Butcher Babies really try to break the mold of female fronted bands, but don’t always accomplish this in the way they seem to want. Immediately vocalist Heidi Shephard shows she can scream with the best of them, while Carla Harvey has a beautifully melodic singing voice that compliments the heavier music perfectly. “I Smell a Massacre” has plenty of catchy riffs that does best suit the group’s obvious Alternative Metal influence. There is a subtle groove to the main riffs, but does have an overall lighter touch that barely crossed the line out of radio friendly by today’s standards. The chorus is the catchiest part though, making you want to immediately start singing along with the dueling clean and shouting vocals backed by a hint of Punk rebellion in the music that gives it enough of a unique touch. “Magnolia Blvd” is basically the same pattern, though some bridges have far more technical riffs that add a little more hostility to the more Pantera driven music instead of the previous track’s Slipknot approach.

But, as you progress, the hero worship really does start to interfere. Title track “Goliath” kicks right off with riffs stolen from the Pantera classic “Cowboys from Hell,” which do come back for the chorus. There are few times this track is original, wearing the worship of this group on the band’s sleeves. While performed very well with as much energy as the inspiration for it, acting as a nice homage, it will instantly have you fighting the urge to take Goliath out and throw in your copy of Cowboys from Hell. The same goes with “Give Me Reason,” which stands out more for the dual shouting vocals that erupt about two minutes in that are incredibly intimidating against the ferocious high speed Groove Metal performance. “Dead Poet” is one that doesn’t come off as a blatant rip off, baring its fangs in an early Kittie approach that shows a little more originality all around that is really worth hearing. This influence also shows during the clean singing of “Axe Wound” and it is simply beautiful, hitting the exact what the band seems it to despite the restrained and standard Groove and Metalcore performance from start to finish.

Sadly there’s also some that just aren’t that engaging. “Grim Sleeper,” shows some downtuned Meshuggah love with harsher Angela Glasgow style growls to the vocals at times. While not a bad performance, it lacks that additional burst of energy that fans can immediately feed off of, ending up a bit bland in the execution. The guitar solo half way through isn’t even that strong, coming off a bit on the simple side, though fits the fade of instruments that usher in some silence before the sudden explosion shortly after. “The Mirror Never Lies” has some additional energy in the main verses, giving way to a drum heavy performance in the chorus and a later emotional softer Rock segment. It’s a tight track overall, but even the enthusiastic start doesn’t do much to hook the listener. “The Deathsurround” isn’t bad, but when the higher leveled and overly distorted screaming hits, the performance ends up obnoxious, immediately losing the listener until the gang chants hit to wrap things up with a breakdown. But, while these are just three of the small handful of bland songs, Goliath‘s lack of originality will start to wear on your average Metal fan, causing it to become boring after a number of listens regardless of the explosive energy found throughout.

While Butcher Babies do essentially complete their goal of being a female voice in a male dominated genre of music, Goliath sounds more like picking chunks of Slipknot, Pantera, and Meshuggah tracks, and rearranging them into slightly unique performances. The shift of having a shouting female instead of a male paired with a clean singing female is a nice touch, and Heidi can definitely belt them out with the best of them. Any lady that can out scream a guy in a manner other than a Horror scream queen definitely earns my seal of approval. Goliath is strong enough to appeal to a wide audience that will at least respect it, though its grab bag of hero worship approach actually comes off more like a feminist inspired gimmick when broken down to its fundamental blueprints. There’s potential for this group to be more than just replace x chromosome with y, and only when the hero worship is dropped will Butcher Babies crush the balls of naysayers everywhere under their most metal of heels.

01. I Small a Massacre – 3:34
02. Magnolia Blvd. – 4:05
03. C8H18 (Gasoline) – 3:45
04. Grim Sleeper – 4:01
05. Goliath – 3:29
06. In Denial – 4:05
07. Give Me Reason – 3:24
08. The Mirror Never Lies – 4:02
09. Dead Poet – 4:34
10. The Deathsurround – 3:05
11. Axe Wound – 4:15
Initial Pressing Score: 5/10

Butcher Babies
Butcher Babies

Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.