Take It Like A Man
The sophomore album is perhaps far more important than a band's debut release. While the first time needs to be a magical and unforgettable experience, you need to know that the band is here to stay and not just a one-night stand. Quick flings of singles and remixes are nice friendly reminders of why you love them, but it's that second album that is the make or break of a long-term commitment.
A band sets the bar with their first album and frankly they need to beat it the second time around if they want to make it last. While "Cowboys From Hell" introduced the world to Pantera, it was "Vulgar Display Of Power," that solidified their position in the history books thanks to tracks like, "Walk" and "Fucking Hostile." Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," Slipknot's "Iowa," Metallica's "Ride The Lightning" are all sophomore albums that prove, while their debut's kick ass, it's only the beginning and they are here to stay.
And that brings us to the Butcher Babies sophomore recording, "Take It Like A Man," available now via Century Media Records.
Am I putting the five-piece, metal band on the same pedestal as Slipknot, Pantera and the mighty Sabbath? No, of course not, that would be blasphemy. While only time will tell if Butcher Babies will carve out their own integral spot in the annals of heavy metal history, I am simply saying, they are on the right track with their new 12-song offering. They take the bar they set with their opus "Goliath" and surpass it with grace and ease, creating the ideal follow-up album. It's heavier than its predecessor, it's angrier than it's predecessor and above all, it shows growth in the band musically and lyrically.
Henry Flury, Jason Klein and Chris Warner are tighter than ever, creating catchy hooks that could almost pass for radio friendly tunes while never losing their aggressive thrash/punk roots. These members are extensions of one another, sharing one musically sound mind and their songs, made with a live show in mind, will play so well to the crowds. Anyone who has seen Butcher Babies live over the past couple years, are aware of just how impressive and exciting their show is.
And of course let's talk about the vocals. While Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey are sculpted by the Gods themselves, with voices tuned by Angels, it's hard to believe that they could get better than they already are. But here we are. "Take It Like A Man," offers the listener a very raw form of honest storytelling told by two artists that show such a wide range of talent. Their screaming and growling is just as impressive and emotional as their stripped away, vulnerable, singing chops. While some may find the "carnival ringleader" vocal excerpts in Monsters Ball cheesy or the chorus to "Never Go Back" too watered down, it's about the juxtaposition of the songs as a whole. Shepherd and Harvey explore some powerful content with their lyrics but at the end of the day, what is most important for the band is entertainment.
Artists can and should have messages in their work and have a reason to tell the story they're telling, but the primary function of an artist is to create enjoyment. While the purpose of a restaurant is to feed us, the purpose of music is the entertain us. And from song to song, the "ringleader" vocals, the brutally vengeful growls and the angelic harmonizing work perfectly together with pure entertainment in mind. Start to finish every aspect of the album works. It grabs you by the throat and forces you to want to move.
To this day I have never given 10 out of 10 to anything because I refuse to believe that any art is perfect. Entertainment is so subjective that no matter what you do it's a Kobayashi Maru. But I don't care if you're a hater or a confirmed believer in the church of ‘the butcher,' kneeling down at Heidi and Carla's feet. Mark my words, the sophomore album "Take It Like A Man" will be looked back on in 10 years from now with the same praise and appreciation as the greats.
All hail Butcher Babies. 9.5 out of 10. Album highlights: "Dead Man Walking", "Blonde Girls All Look The Same."
Check out our interview with the band here.
Ryan M. Andrews, HMS