Lodi, a small borough of Bergen County, New Jersey, is just over two square miles. It has been the home to both Miss New Jersey 2006, Georgine DiMaria, and the caporegime of the infamous Gambino crime family, Louis Ricco. Parts of HBO’s popular gangster-series, The Sopranos, have been filmed here, but other than a few fictional mobsters (and one real one), there’s not much to suggest that the small village would be the birthplace of a world famous, blood-soaked form of music known as horror punk. The borough’s website’s most recent news items are an announcement of a Senior Citizen’s club’s “Mystery Trip”, the up-coming holiday recycling schedule, and photos of the Lodi Wawa’s Grand Opening- not exactly the kind of image one would associate with legendary acts The Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig. But they all have their origins in Lodi, and something monstrous indeed lurks there, for once again one of its darkest sons has unleashed an evil noise on an unsuspecting world with Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein’s first release, Abominator, by his eponymous band, Doyle. Is there something strange in the water in Lodi that creates this kind of darkness?
“Oh totally,” Doyle replies, “And we drank most of it!”
Released on Doyle’s own label, Monsterman Records, Abominator is a sonically thick and lyrically evil slab of horror-punk tinged metal that finds Doyle expanding in a logical progression upon the genre of music he helped create. Doyle’s first band, the infamous Glenn Danzig-fronted Misfits, helped create the genre of speed/thrash metal with their last album, 1983′s “Earth AD/Wolf’s Blood”- in fact the record has been revered as one of the blueprints for the genre by many of its most respected players, as evidenced by countless groups covering the album’s songs, not the least of which being Metallica. Abominator is not the sound of some punk guitarist gone metal- it’s the roaring return of one of extreme metal’s original architects to his blood-splattered drawing board.
Arising out of the ashes of Doyle’s previous post-Misfits band, Gorgeous Frankenstein, the eleven tracks on Abominator were written by Doyle between 2008 and 2012. Recording both guitar and bass tracks for the album, the unmistakable sound of Doyle’s signature Annihilator guitar cuts through on every tune, starting with the snarling opening title track “Abominator”. The Annihilator’s tone is sharp as a butcher’s knife in the wrong hands and just as nasty- fans of the Misfits will recognize it right away. But the guitar tracks rip through the record with much heavier metallic force than his previous bands’s recordings – in short it’s the sound he’s been trying to capture all along, and it’s positively malevolent. “The sound of the guitar is the sound of the guitar; it’s what’s been normal to me all along. I just finally actually got it on tape- or computer files rather, hahaha” he laughs.
The tunes themselves showcase not only the tonal brute force of Doyle’s massive and ear-bleedingly loud guitar rig (a mammoth collection of low-end cabinets and heads that actually rumbles stage floors more than all the other instruments present combined), but the writing and playing skills of the hulking man holding the axe. While the horror punk vibe of The Misfits does permeate the album (as it should), the guitar work on Abominator is more technical (and far meatier) than your average punk rock record. It’s a much heavier form of dread and terror, sounding at times like nothing more than a high speed tank driven by an extremely skilled sadist intent on eliminating everyone and everything in his path. On tunes like “Headhunter” and “Land of the Dead” the riffs are relentless, and if a riff could be described in emotional terms, remorseless. “Dreamingdeadgirls” brings a blackened-blues swing, and the doom-laden “Love Like Murder” shows a healthy appreciation for all things Sabbath. “Blood Stains” moves from primal sludge to ripping off-time thrash with ease. The album is just that- an album, a cohesive and well executed piece of work that takes the listener on a journey; albeit a bloody journey to places some fear to tread.
Longtime collaborator (and fellow Lodi native) Dr. CHUD handles the drums for the record. CHUD is no stranger to the fast and violent world of horror punk, having bashed the skins behind Doyle in the second, Michael Graves-fronted, incarnation of the Misfits. And while horror punk does necessitate a lot of fast drumming, a record as metallic as Abominator requires a bit more complexity out of a drummer, while playing still even faster- in part, this of course means blazing double bass, a skill Dr. CHUD brings to the table seemingly effortlessly. “Ya know CHUD was an easy choice- I already knew him, he’s dedicated, and only lives 20 minutes away- but he didn’t play double bass before this record. He never even tried it.” Why? “I don’t know- that would have been the first thing I tried” Doyle jokes. To listen to even just the beginning of a tune like “Dreamingdeadgirls” (CHUD’s feet kick the song off with metronome-precise staccato blurs of lightening speed double bass), one wonders why Dr. CHUD has been holding back all along. Whatever the reason may be, the drums are as thick as Doyle’s monstrous guitar tone, and handled just as deftly.
With guitar, bass, and drums laid down by two of Lodi’s most ghoulishly adept players (live show bass duty is handled by Gorgeous Frankenstein alumni and fellow Jersey native, “Left Hand” Graham), the vocals for Abominator claw their way out of an unlikely locale- the American Deep South. Coming from a legendary band of almost mythological proportions, and having first worked with one of punk and metal’s most talented and respected vocalists (the infamous Glenn Danzig), Doyle’s new project would need a singer with brass balls, cast-iron pipes, a suitably twisted mind, and his own vocal delivery style. For while GD casts a long and heavy shadow, a mere Danzig copy-cat would not do Abominator the unholy justice due. Enter Alabama’s Alex Story of Cancerslug, a Southern fiend who more than meets all of the afore-mentioned qualifications. His sand-blasted scream opens the record, and the evil doesn’t relent until the ending growl of “Hope Hell Is Warm”, the album’s defiant closer. The man can scream and sing, and employs both styles to great effect, switching seamlessly from raw-throated roars to rough-edged, yet melodic, horror punk-style clean vocals.
As befits songs as musically dark as Abominator‘s, the album’s lyrics are not for the faint of heart. Cheerful topics such as necrophilic lust appear in tunes like “Dreaming Dead Girls” and “Cemeterysexxx”, while decapitation for sport appears to be Story’s favorite past-time in “Headhunter”. Fallen angels and The Dark Lord himself get a nod in “Learn to Bleed” and “Mark Of The Beast”, respectively. On the album’s first single, “Valley of Shadows”, Story takes the listener on a trip through the very realm of death itself. Throughout the entire record, there is absolutely zero attempt to balance its evil with any sort of good counterpoint- penned entirely by Story (probably in blood), Abominator‘s lyrics are entirely and uncompromisingly dark. Music fans looking for feel- good anthems had best look elsewhere- those who enjoy strolling through the shadows will be greatly satisfied, though, and it’s for these underground folks that this record was obviously written.
So how did this Jersey devil and crew wind up with a Dixie-bred howler? “After I had written all this music, I realized I had to get someone to sing this stuff- once I’m done recording guitars, all I can see is myself just playing that riff, ya know? That’s my thing, not lyrics and singing,” Doyle says, with typically blunt candor. “I’ve known Alex for a while, so I called him up, then sent him a bunch of the tunes. Two days later he sent me back ‘Mark of the Beast’, just like it is on the record. I said ‘That’s exactly what I want!’, and the rest is history. I only wrote the word ‘abominator’- all the rest of that stuff is Alex. He’s just crazy, man”.
Is it weird having someone from South of the Mason/Dixon singing for a Jersey horror- metal wrecking ball? “Nah man- but when he speaks, he does sound like Elvis! When we were making the record, one day there was an Elvis interview on the radio in the studio- I was like ‘Holy fuck, dude- that’s you.‘ ” Accents aside, Story voice and Doyle’s rumbling guitar fit together like Jack the Ripper and a warehouse full of straight razors- it’s a match made in hell.
With the release of Abominator, Doyle and company are set to hit the road and bring the monster to life on stages far and wide. Anyone who has seen Doyle play classic Misfits songs on tour with Danzig over the last few years already knows what an imposing stage presence he has- in truth, imposing isn’t a strong enough word to describe this behemoth of a man. He’s actually pretty damn terrifying, and the horror- punk aesthetic he helped create has been maintained through the years, from the skull white face and wicked devil lock to his massive bloody hands- that’s real blood, by the way. Watching Doyle hammer such heavy tones out of a guitar, one wonders a) how he can play so technically well while hitting the strings that hard, & b) how the damn thing is going to make it through just one song, much less an entire set. “I actually bleed from my left hand from gripping the guitar neck too hard” he says. Tons of guitar players bleed with their right hands from hitting the strings, but the left? “Yeah, I guess I don’t exactly have any sort of a ‘light’ touch…” he says, in a slight understatement.
Doyle onstage resembles some sort of evil body building anti-super hero; the man actually seems to turn into someone or something else. This is what fans have come to expect over the course of his thirty-plus year career, and Doyle never disappoints. “It’s what the kids want to see, man. I like to start getting ready about two hours before set time, but if I’ve only got twenty minutes, then I’ve got to get it done in nineteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds- it’s what they pay for. And as soon as you start putting on the make up and gear, and it’s time to walk on stage, you totally transform into something else.”
And just what is that something else?
The beast indeed- with an absolutely vicious new album of songs, a wild-eyed wolf- man of a singer, a ghoulish jackhammer on the drums, a road-tested bassist, and a really loud blod-soaked guitar rig, Doyle will be destroying a venue near you soon. “It’s time to hit the road for real and take this as far as it will go. We’re fucking ready” he says. And what can fans expect at a Doyle show?
“To get fucking pummeled, man. And then go home and ask themselves ‘What the fuck just happened to me?!?’, hahaha…” he replies with a laugh that this time, no joke about it, actually sounds evil. Loud, aggressive, and technically proficient, Doyle and crew are set to show the world how true horror metal sounds today.
So crank up Abominator until your speakers blow, check out Doyle on tour soon, and let the beatings begin. Hail horror!
written by: Randy Blythe “Lamb of God“