I was curious to hear this 5 piece Los Angeles metal band after learning that they have two female lead vocalists. I figured their sound would have to be pretty unique, that the women would be singing in different styles. After all, what would be the point in having two singers if they were both going to sing in the exact same way? And it turns out I was right — there are a ton of different styles and genres fused together on Butcher Babies’ mammoth debut album Goliath. And not just in terms of the vocals. Even musically, this band is not content to pick a genre and stick with it, as they frequently change it up throughout the album, sometimes even exploring multiple genres within the span of a single track. Those that immediately come to mind are death metal, hardcore, thrash, shock rock and melodic metal. I’m not sure who their influences are, but if I had to guess I would say Wykked Wytch, Otep, Flyleaf, Alice Cooper, Korn and Slayer. But I’m sure they’ve been influenced by dozens of other artists, too. It’s clear that this is a band that listens to just about everything, liking various things for different reasons, and finding inspiration from most if not all of them. Frontwomen Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd literally scream at the top of their lungs one second and sing beautifully the next. They can sound like angry demons about to strike or sweet and innocent, soul-saving angels. To be sure, this is brutal, monstrous music, but brilliant flashes of light frequently pierce the darkness, if only momentarily.
The album’s title, Goliath, refers to the monsters that our fucked up world creates. This is actually a concept album about their stories, revealing the myriad reasons why they become evil and turn on society for retribution.
One of the things I found most fascinating about Butcher Babies sound is the way that Carla and Heidi will often sing at the same time but in totally different styles. One of them could be singing a perfectly melodic vocal while the other is screaming the same lyrics at the same time. It’s like harmonizing and the exact opposite of harmonizing all at once. Amazing. They do this especially well during the chorus of the blistering opening track “I Smell A Massacre.”
I also have to praise the guys in the band, who are certainly not to be overlooked. Guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein and drummer Chris Warner fit together perfectly, like pieces of a puzzle of a pentagram. Henry’s guitars can go from grinding and raw to melodious and back multiple times within the span of a single song. Mostly, they’re in your face aggressive. But he can leave you feeling attacked and victimized one minute and inspired and ready to jump around the next. I’m sure there must be some crazy mosh pits at the band’s shows and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be in the middle of one. Of course, it’s the band’s colossal rhythm section that people would be dancing to. To that end, Jason plays his bass like he’s swinging an axe into a tree while Chris beats his drums like a boxer trying to knock out his opponent.
I can honestly say that there’s no filler on this album. These songs are all larger than life and expertly crafted. If I had to name a few favorites, I’d probably go with “Magnolia Blvd,” “In Denial” and “The Deathsurround.” But if you asked me tomorrow I could very well name a few others. Each time I listen to the album I change my mind about my favorite track, actually.
There’s no denying it — Butcher Babies are a force to be reckoned with and fans of just about any metal genre would likely find something within their songs that they can latch onto. But their music would clearly be most appreciated by those of us who don’t limit ourselves to any particular genre, who can enjoy the very wild ride as the Babies take us from one end of the metal spectrum to the next and back again.