January 28, 2014
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Andy Upton
Photos by Paul Wilkins
Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals
Technicians of Distortion
Oh... Where to begin? Having been a Philip Anselmo fan for approximately half of my forty-six years on this planet, I always look forward to the chance to see him live and tonight at Trees in Dallas, Texas was the place.
It's an adventure, a blast and a beating all at once. It just seems like yesterday I was in this same building watching him front the incredibly talented and awesome Down, now here I am again, front and center, to see his new creation = Philip H. Anselmo and The Illegals. The formation of this band started in 2010 and took awhile to put together, but Phil finally found the free time and was joined by Houston-based guitarist Marzi Montazeri, Warbeast drummer Jose Manuel "Blue" Gonzalez and bassist Bennett Bartley (replaced on the tour by Steve Taylor).
I find it interesting that instead of coming out rocking, Phil walks to the front of the stage, thanks the crowd for showing up, promises to make it worth everyone's time and gives us all one rule: NO FIGHTING! We will revisit that later. The first song that I remember was "Hellbound" from Pantera's Reinventing the Steel and then they jumped right into "Betrayed" & the title track from Walk Through Exits Only from their debut album. The crowd around me down front was going nuts by then and I did not think that they could get any crazier, but I was wrong... in a big way! I faintly heard the first few notes from "Death Rattle" and the throng of sweaty bodies surged forward and mayhem ensued. The noise level was way past ten and the bodies were flying everywhere.
After that maelstrom of sound ceased, "Batallion of Zero" and "Usurper Bastard's Rant," two more new songs were played. This gave me time to watch the Illegals - Steve Taylor was wonderful on the bass, twenty year old "Blue" Gonzalez reminded me of "Animal" on the drums and Marzi was brilliant on his guitar work. However; this was about the time a few jerks in the crowd forgot the one and only rule: no fighting. Phil stopped the music and yelled at the guys to stop that nonsense immediately. This gave way to an eclectic/electric group of cover tunes: "Wrecked Like Clockwork" from Arson Anthem, "Family, Friends and Associates" from their split EP with Warbeast, Agnostic Front's "United & Strong" and "High School Dreaming" which featured Blue singing and Phil on drums. The highlight of that stretch was Scott Shelby taking the stage (and diving off of it) to sing with Phil during FF&A. The set ended (or so we thought) with the powerful "Irrelevant Walls and Computer Screens" from Walk Through Exits Only. Even though the crowd did not have much left - the encore treated us to a trio of Pantera's finest songs: Domination/Hollow and A New Level. All of the night's Pantera songs made me miss them more and more & as much as everyone wants it to happen - I'm resolved to never seeing them as a whole band again.
All I can say about the concert's two opening bands is WOW... and not in a good way! Hymns, an avant-garde black metal band from Fayetteville, Arkansas was a cross between the Doors, Black Sabbath and a whole ton of bad garage bands all rolled up into one. Between the screaming and the growling, I think that I understood about five words and the musical sound was very uneven. Author & Punisher is actually one man, Tristan Shone, and his homemade instruments. The music is industrial/doom metal created by using a wide variety of electrical contraptions and was only interesting for about five minutes. I appreciated the creativity and newness Tristan brought, but it was all just a little much for me. Hopefully, Phil and the Illegals can find some time in the future to get back together and make more music we can all enjoy.