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Birds Of Prey The Hell Preacher

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Birds Of Prey - The Hell Preacher
01. Momma
02. Juvie
03. As the Field Mice Play
04. Alive Inside!
05. Tempt the Disciples
06. Taking On Our Winter Blood
07. The Excavation
08. Blind Faith
09. False Prophet
10. The Owl Closes In
11. Warriors of Mud... The Hellfighters
12. Giving Up the Ghost
2009 Relapse Records

OUR SCORE
6
USER SCORE
-
Reviewed by: Rob Parker   //   Published: 8/2/2009

The third release from death 'n roll supergroup Birds of Prey is definitely a mixed bag. While the band has always managed to unleash some entertaining tunes over the years, I've always felt like there was something missing. Not that they're a horrible act by any means, but the whole doesn't amount to the sum of its parts.

The Hell Preacher is a bit of a departure for the group. It's a concept album that feels like a first attempt at the other members taking things "seriously." The unapologetic un-PC lyrics and undying commitment to sludged-out riffery are still there. Witte's drums still sound crisp and almost restrained as Erik Larson and Bo Leslie unleash some uneven (but generally always fun) dual guitar work. The solos are generally pretty solid and well-executed, but Larson and Leslie fall into the habit of pulling back into some basic chugging during most particularly vocal-intensive portions (ostensibly to allow Ben Hogg's depraved narrative to connect with the listener.) It's during these points that the album feels a little too turgid for its own good, especially with a drumming powerhouse behind the kit and two guitarists, simple rhythmic guitar riffing just doesn't cut it. It sounds too self-conscious and empties a few tracks of much of their charm. ("Tempt the Disciples" for example)

Hogg doesn't get off scot-free, either. His insistence on dragging the narrative along often proves to be a detriment to the album, as he awkwardly rants over what would be a well-placed solo in "Taking on Our Winter Blood." And it's stuff like this that leaves Birds of Prey and The Hell Preacher in particular with the aura of the vanity project: each member indulging themselves with minimal communication about the song structure. If more attention had been paid to the songwriting, they could have easily avoided letting "Juvie" fall into mediocrity (and realized that it was dragging on for two minutes too long.) There are still some noteworthy moments, but they all too often seem accidental. See "Momma" and "The Excavation."

On the upside, the production is crisp and satisfying. The guitar tone owes a fair bit to Wolverine Blues-era Entombed, but it serves the sound well, by adding a thick crunch that really resonates when the band gets their shit together.

Unfortunately, Birds of Prey often fail to completely connect. It's a shame, since to say there's a tremendous amount of talent in the men involved is an understatement, and just a little more careful construction would have made The Hell Preacher one hell of a good time.

Bottom Line: Birds of Prey's inexplicable decision to hamstring themselves with an awkward concept album still makes it difficult to truly get behind the project. If they put as much effort into the songcraft as they did into trying to sound like an "unapologetic, just playin' the shit for the fun of it" band on Sulfur and Semen, The Hell Preacher would've been a pretty decent success. As it stands, though, they sacrificed too much, had too many missteps for this to be a "must-listen."

Comments
soloman_   posted 8/12/2009 5:55:28 PM
The melodies are pretty varied, and go really well with the chugging and simplistic riffing. It really grew on me. I enjoy the album a lot.
Omegaman_   posted 8/6/2009 4:36:13 PM
I like this, the singing over the solo (or vice versa) is weird, but bagging on the simple chugga riffs is teh dummz and is being nit-picky, techie rifgaye would not suit the purpose of this band.
benhogg_   posted 8/3/2009 10:42:05 PM
I get what you're saying mr. review man, I don't fully agree but it even took me a while to fully warm to the results of this album. Sorry you didn't go ass over balls for it, but perhaps in due time. I really only posted cuz of the dude jamey of prey or whatever. He's not in the band and while I appreciate the sentiment, internet terrorism isn't necessary. It's just a review. I hope you were supplied lyrics with your promo, because w/o that you are only getting a portion of the product.
anonymous   posted 8/3/2009 4:29:59 PM
They stripped me naked had me lift my ballsack up so they could check underneath it, and then had me bend over and spread my asscheeks apart so they could look inside my jerk.
Jamey of Prey_   posted 8/3/2009 11:01:46 AM
You f*cking shithead. You don't know the first thing about death 'n roll; we put a lot of time and effort into this CD, and it's one of the heaviest releases of the year. We better not catch you around at any shows, because if my crew sees you, you'll wish you never got out of bed that day. Oh, and to everyone who actually CARES about this record, listen up! Thanks to everybody who bought it already but for those who have not been able to find it, try TARGET, yes TARGET is stocking it for ONLY $

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