If there was ever a misleading title, it’s the one shock rock mainstay Joseph Poole, aka Wednesday 13, has chosen to bestow upon his latest solo offering, Condolences. Where that word would generally imply music that is soft and sweet in nature, here it presents a collection of songs that are heavy, vicious, overflowing with riffs, and most of all, tons of fun.
Poole shares what is essentially a sonic love letter to all things horror and macabre with this record. He does so by channeling some of the very best singers of scary music. His voice is equal parts Mr. Lordi and Alexi Laiho, and he uses it to scream through some masterful hooks, like the one in the mosh-ready “You Breathe, I Kill.” Elsewhere on the album, “Omen Amen” would fit in very nicely on any Rob Zombie release, it chugs so good; and “Lonesome Road to Hell” could easily be a Mistfits track. Drummer Kyle Castronovo provides some punishing rhythms and fillsis a particular standout on this album as he .
It’s on the title track, though, that Poole really nails it home. The eerie sound of the wind that permeates the song, the heavy-as-hell main riff, the slow-burning acoustic verses, and the emotionally charged solo really make this song the stuff of nightmares. As Wednesday 13 imagines his own death and the aftermath in great detail, he opines, “Where am I going? What is before me now? And as the darkness calls to me, ‘death is your destiny.’”
My only complaint is that some of the riffs, while they are awesome, sound a little too similar. The two opening songs “What the Night Brings” and “Cadaverous” in particular feature a pair of screeching guitar hooks that are too similar to ignore. Other than that though, this is a great addition to any heavy punk rock or metal collection and worthy proof as to why Poole has managed to stay in the business for as long as he has making music as niche as he does.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson