Review Summary: A decent introduction to what Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein does when he's not grimacing at crowds with The Misfits.
Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein is, and probably always will be, known first and foremost as the leader of the not-so-recently revived horror punk group Misfits. He's also known to a lesser degree as the current partner of Arch Enemy frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz. What very few realize about the guy however, is that he has taken time out on his own for a brief stint going solo. Up to now he has only produced two solo albums: 2013's Abominator
and this year's II: As We Die
, both of which will surprise fans of The Misfits because of an obvious difference in musical style. Whereas the music of The Misfits features obvious homages to all things horror/Gothic and punk, Doyle's solo material is more versatile and intentionally hard-hitting.
II: As We Die
doesn't really feature any change in musical direction compared to Abominator
, but it does attempt to reach a wider audience-or at least an audience which is more interested in Doyle's work outside of The Misfits. From the get-go of doom-laden, metallic opener "Kiss Me As We Die", it's clear that Doyle's creative ambition is to develop a stronger, fiercer beast consisting of heavy, groove-laden rhythms and aggressive composition. Much of the music here revolves around Doyle's signature guitar style, which is essentially a fusion of industrial, doomy swagger and latter-day Venom-inspired menace. This is what drives a lot of the songs, most notably the aforementioned opener, "Beast Like Me" and "Run for Your Life", to the point of getting hooked in the listener's ears, and in that respect, II: As We Die
succeeds very well.
It's a shame then that the album is top-heavy, because from "Virgin Sacrifice" onwards, it would seem that musical creativity and vigour has gone out the window. Doyle's guitar talent is still there, but because of how uninspiring songs like "We Belong Dead" come across, such musical talent is rendered ineffective. It also doesn't help that this line-up features one of the weakest vocalists Doyle himself could have picked. Yes, in the album opener and Blues-influenced "Witchcraft" there's more vocal versatility than normal, but in an album that is generally brought down a few pegs thanks to an inconsistent delivery, these two highlights are only subtle and not obvious. In vocalist Alex Story's favour however, he does seem naturally more comfortable when singing in a cleaner, less gruff tone. Put him alongside the grinding heaviness of "We Belong Dead" however, and you'll be convinced that nothing really gels.
The general impression of this second solo record is that it's essentially Doyle and his (probably not) merry men. The core advantage in the group's favour is Doyle's driving, mostly excellent guitar work, and without that, this would seem nothing more than a band trying to get ahead in the world of industrial/groove-influenced metal. Perhaps this will be Doyle's focal point in his musical career at some point, but he would be wise to choose a more fitting vocalist and greater versatility, as with II: As We Die
the experience is satisfying but not groundbreaking in any sense of the term.