Review Summary: Good dirty sleazy fun. Like a pool of mud to a pig.
When I first heard He Is Legend’s debut, I Am Hollywood
, way back in ’04-’05, their scene-kid image somehow managed to outweigh the weight of their riffage in my mind and led me to summarily dismiss them as just another uninteresting scenecore band. In the following years I managed to avoid listening to anything else they put out, thereby completely missing their evolution from fresh-faced scene-kids to hirsute groovy southern rockers. Therefore, imagine my surprise when, on a whim, I decided to give White Bat
a spin and found myself thoroughly enjoying their freewheeling spiritual mashup of White Zombie, Pantera and Every Time I Die.
Led by the now whiskey-and-cigarette-voiced frontman Schuylar Croom, and the tectonic swagger of guitarist Adam Tanbouz and drummer Jesse Shelley, White Bat
is a loose concept album that looks at life through the eyes of its thoroughly disreputable titular character on his journey across the "badlands" in much the same way the band’s debut explored the seedy side of life in tinseltown. If anything, the concept is borne out even better on White Bat
than it was on I Am Hollywood
thanks to the gravel in Croom’s voice and the sleaze in Tanbouz’s riffing adding some real grit and menace to proceedings. In general, the album’s uptempo rockers prove to be its high-points thanks to their supercharged energy-and-groove-laden instrumental performances which counteract any inequities in the vocal department. White Bat
comes charging out of the gates like a (white) bat out of hell with the 1-2 punch of its title-track and the tongue-in-cheek “Burn All Your Rock Records”, while the over-caffeinated “Eye Teeth” and the crushing “Boogiewoman” also provide some of the album's absolute highlights.
The results when the band slows things down are a bit more mixed. Croom crafts some haunting melodies over some of the slower songs such as “Uncanny Valley” and they are not without appeal. However, there is a significant lack of really catchy hooks on the album and this is particularly noticeable when the instruments aren’t dominating proceedings. Ultimately this makes the album feel slightly disposable and it falls short of the kind of record that demands repeated listens. But, while it lasts, White Bat
provides a rollicking good time in the finest tradition of spooky southern groove metal.
"White Bat" Lyric Video: https://youtu.be/KxywZgsgolI
"Boogiewoman" Music Video: https://youtu.be/3NdTaWL0_A8