PHILIP H. ANSELMO hasn't just paved his own path; he's bulldozed it with his bare hands. His primal, powerful presence led Pantera to Grammy Award nominations, sales of twenty million albums worldwide, legions of diehard fans, and an indisputable heavy metal legacy. Simultaneously, Down carved out a distinct niche with a gold-selling debut and three more critically acclaimed releases. Superjoint made a triumphant return in 2016 and in the midst of everything, ANSELMO joined Scour alongside members of Pig Destroyer and Cattle Decapitation and teamed up with horror icon Bill Moseley for the Bill & Phil project. However, PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS speaks to a certain need for him.
Instead of treading the same ground, ANSELMO and his bandmates in THE ILLEGALS, open up another doorway altogether with their 2018 sophomore release, Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue. It's extreme, abrasive, aggressive, and anthemic. In other words, it's purely ANSELMO.
Following up 2013's Walk Through Exits Only, this new body of work hinges on no holds-barred lyrical misanthropy and insurgent instrumental intricacy as it sharpens any and all edges to guillotine precision. "It ain't pretty," ANSELMO exclaims. "It's more straightforward and cohesive to a degree, but it still goes off the rails here and there. We went through it song after song cut and fucking dry. I was in a specific mindset. I wanted to further my endeavors into a genre of music that I adore. As all ten songs blow by, I wanted an unforgiving feel. This is what was on my mind. It's a recorded capsule of time."
Following a successful maiden touring cycle for THE ILLEGALS, the frontman hunkered down at his home studio in Louisiana to record what would become Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue in 2014 and 2015. The lineup shifted as Stephen Taylor (Superjoint) transitioned from bass to guitar, Mike DeLeon (Flesh Horder, Being Killed, ex-MOD et al) joined as a guitarist, and Walter Howard (Grieved, Oppressive Force) took over bass duties. Meanwhile, Jose Manuel "Blue" Gonzalez (Superjoint, Warbeast) held down the drums. Through rigorous rehearsals and writing sessions, a framework for the new music took shape as ANSELMO wholeheartedly welcomed the ideas of his cohorts.
"Their creative input is fucking fantastic," beams ANSELMO. "This is something that was very different from the first record where I was very staunch. I wanted it to be ugly. I was very firm that I was writing every fucking note. The thought was, 'This is my contribution to ugly music right this second in a heavy metal vein.' That was great at the time. Walk Through Exits Only made its own little statement that I am a free agent and I belong to no single band. This time, I worked closely with everyone. We tried different ideas together. It made the spirit of this thing come alive even more because of the enthusiasm these guys bring. It enhanced the integrity of the project."
"Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue hits with all the subtlety of a jackhammer in the forehead. This is unquestionably one of the angriest and heaviest albums of ANSELMO's career." -- Exclaim
"An ever-shifting fusillade of extreme groove prog..." -- Decibel
"...strong, powerful and ugly...this record has everything one would want from a PHILIP H. ANSELMO project - testosterone-filled, aggressive, no-nonsense metal with attitude... some of the heaviest, most brutal metal he has created to date..." -- Metal Nexus
"...an album that is pure mayhem on the surface and sublimely intelligent underneath." -- The Void Report
"...heavy, vicious and angry...a perfect storm of extreme metal chaos..." -- Hellbound
"The sheer anger PHIL communicates in his most crushing vocal lines and the mind melting assault of these tracks speaks of a world few of us are truly comfortable with. ANSELMO and the gang are pulling apart societies problems and forcing us to choke on them." -- Two Guys Metal Reviews
"...a brutal album, heavy in attack but chaotic in style and grandeur." -- The Rock Pit
"Every song is full of relentless anxiety, tension, and malice. Seeking solace is not in the cards as the death-tinged hardcore brutality within this album is terrifying. However, there is a bit of a cathartic release that only the tortured vocals of PHIL ANSELMO can provide." -- Metal Wani