Album Review: Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals – Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue

By Ryan Falla

The follow up to 2013’s debut record by Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, Walk Through Exits Only, is exactly what you would expect from Anselmo. ‘Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue’, the latest release by Anselmo & The Illegals, is angry, and aggressively dominates.

In other words, this record is Phil Anselmo in his purest form. Anselmo & The Illegals take on a powerfully hardcore tonality; more so than even the heaviest Pantera albums such as Far Beyond Driven or Reinventing the Steel. In fact, ‘Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue’ manages to maintain many beloved elements Anselmo displayed with Pantera. However, you should know that this album is in a completely different ballpark than the previous music of Phil Anselmo. This isn’t a groove metal album like Down or Pantera, but the music on this album is brutally straightforward.

From the album kickoff, ‘Little Fucking Heroes’, you’re introduced to a very pure, stripped down form of aggressive, hardcore metal. There’s no embellishment with groovy riffs that supersedes the angry nature of the lyrical aggression, there’s no attention paid to “high-flying, epic solos”, there’s no spinning of lyrical poetry aside from the surface level concepts of unbridled fury.

This is a simple record, its abusive riffs abide by a powerful repetition that drives the record deeper and deeper into its visionary landscape. Let me put it this way for you; if this record was the bad guy in a movie it wouldn’t be the antagonist who gives grand speeches and plays coy, flaunting his dastardly intuitions. This instead is a tidal wave of anger and exudes fury that is akin to the simple horror movie villains of Jason or Michael Myers. There’s nothing grand or exuberant about this antagonism, it’s simply what it is; unbridled anger in its purest form.

However, the repetition allows a bit of predictability within the record. This isn’t so much a bad thing, although it does impose a sort of “ceiling”. There are no real moments of “Oh wow! What just happened?!” Everything that happens is to be expected, and though the record is powerful throughout, it reaches a limit once you come to understand the music within it. This isn’t to say that this “limit” keeps it from being enjoyable past a certain point, it’s simply that this record can be taken at face value, and once you come to understand the face value, there isn’t much else to pick up on.

‘Choosing Mental Illness as a Virtue’ provides a powerful tonality chock-full of aggressive musical elements that allow for a brutally constructed record. This aggression is unrelenting from the record opening to its close, and though the record is easy to understand, the impression it digs into you is powerful enough to outlast its simple nature.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Record Label: Housecore
Release Date: January 26 2018

Track Listing:
01. Little Fucking Heroes (3:47)
02. Utopian (3:42)
03. Choosing Mental Illness (3:20)
04. The Ignorant Point (3:39)
05. Individual (6:49)
06. Delinquent (4:27)
07. Photographic Taunts (4:07)
08. Finger Me (5:39)
09. Invalid Colubrine Frauds (4:01)
10. Mixed Lunatic Results (6:58)

Total Duration: 46:29

Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals links: facebook