Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals
Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue



by PsychicChris USER (264 Reviews)
January 26th, 2018 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I suppose Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue lives up to its “love it or hate it” marketing, but there’s some serious suspension of disbelief involved in legitimately loving it.

Frontman Phil Anselmo remains prolific in middle age, though he seems to have nestled into an extreme sludge metal sweet spot between Superjoint and his solo band. His first album backed by the Illegals since 2013’s Walk Through Exits Only offers much of the same eclectic style energized by flurries of manic musicianship. Unfortunately, it also demonstrates the same unfocused redundancy as its predecessor.

The songs on Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue are defined by their constantly shifting tempos as well as influence from sludge, hardcore, thrash, and even black metal. The drums are at a near constant blast and the guitars navigate the changes well, alternating between mean punk speed runs and grinding breakdowns with plenty of angry static to go around.

Unfortunately, the actual compositions aren’t very memorable. The structures are set up without any real intent guiding them and individual ideas fail to stick around long enough to really stick. There are promising segments like the ambience of the closing “Mixed Lunatic Results” and some of the riffs do stick out, but the songs are largely incoherent exercises that not even the most aggressive band can keep from going in one ear and out the other.

It also doesn’t help that Anselmo’s voice continues to decline. The Scour EPs prove that he can bust out some solid black metal screeches when he feels like it, but his hardcore shout comes out as a tired wheeze that sounds more annoying than intimidating. It’s bad enough that his performances make poor songs like “Individual” and “Finger Me” even more unpleasant, but his cringe worthy rants threaten to completely derail the otherwise decent instrumentation on the opening “Little ***ing Heroes” and “Choosing Mental Illness.” Phil’s obnoxiousness has been a part of his appeal since the Vulgar days, but it makes the experience much harder to tolerate when there’s nothing else to really focus on.

I suppose Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue lives up to its “love it or hate it” marketing, but there’s some serious suspension of disbelief involved in legitimately loving it. There’s talent involved but there’s no real sense of payoff when the structures are this purposeless and the vocals this grating. You won’t find anything that wasn’t done better by Trendkill-era Pantera or Superjoint Ritual, and Scour is the best outlet for Anselmo’s more extreme talents nowadays. Fans will still gravitate to this regardless, but I’ll stay over here wondering when Down will get its act together…

“Little ***ing Heroes”
“Choosing Mental Illness”
“Mixed Lunatic Results”

Originally published at

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2018


Album Rating: 2.5

Some great points I echo myself here. It’s a 50/50 album

January 26th 2018


I doubt phil anselmo was ever a good musician, alot of passion though.

January 26th 2018


and damn you must think this is awful if you gave it a 3

January 26th 2018


I doubt phil anselmo was ever a good musician

NOLA dude

Digging: Fall of Efrafa - Owsla

January 26th 2018


Album Rating: 3.0

I actually like Down. I wish more of his projects had a similar sound instead of this shitty Superjoint recycling.

There are varying degrees of suck and there are things that suck more than this. But yeah, this sucks.

January 27th 2018


I wonder if anyone would have ever given a shit about him if he wasn't in pantera, but I guess that's kind of a ridiculous thing to know.

July 1st 2018


Album Rating: 4.0

Huge improvement over the first album. Some killer moments here.

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