Review Summary: And through all of the staggering mediocrity somehow everything works
So it's 2002, Slipknot have just gone on hiatus and a plethora of side projects are popping up. Of them, a three way scheme from Joey Jordison, Wednesday 13, and Tripp Eisen proves to be the most solid and well executed idea. Bearing little in common with either Jordison's or Eisen's other bands, what was actually on the album came as a surprise to everyone. The horror punk and glam metal mash up on The Murderdolls' debut album actually came from neither Jordison or Eisen, but can be attributed almost completely to Wednesday 13, who had previously recorded 13 of the 15 tracks present with previous bands.
At its core Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls is a album that is less about a serious musical effort and more about having fun, and quite frankly they succeeded. Every song is simple, adhering the tried and true verse/chorus routine, simple bar chord riffs played in a limited selection of scales, and stock rhythms. But even with everything being simple and close to generic there's a few things that keep it from being dull.
The first bright spot is Wednesday 13. his voice is immediately unique and distinguishable. He sounds equally angry and cheerful throughout most of the tracks, an interesting feat that gives the music an almost demented feel. This comes through strongest in tracks like Graverobbing USA, 197666, Dressed to Depress, and Slit Your Wrists. Along with his top notch vocals are some rather hit and miss lyrics. Some are genius in the sarcasm (Dressed to Depress, Let's Go to War) but the rest wallow between generic and childish.
The rest of the band member roles are on roughly the same level as Wednesday. The riffs are solid and get the energy pumping but range from generic punk sections to generic Motley Crue. Still, it's hard to keep from smiling as the album plays. The energetic if somewhat samey drums keep the exact same same 3 rhythms for the entire album and basically serve their purpose to make everyone play on time while never adding anything of their own. And well, I think they may have forgotten to record any bass lines.
And through all of the staggering mediocrity somehow everything works. Tracks like Dawn of the Dead and B Movie Scream Queen are as fun as anything else you can find in the genre. 197666 and Mother***er, I Don't Care and delightful angry anthems. And somehow even the bland, skip worthy tracks (She Was A Teenage Zombie, Twist My Sister, Die My Bride) are infused with an energy that is oddly reminiscent of being a high school reject rocking out in his bedroom. It's occasionally bland, sometimes awkward, and often prone to bursts of angst filled rage, but at the end of the day it's still something worth listening to every now and then.