Joseph Poole Isn’t Sending Many of Them at All
It’s a little bit hard to not be socially conscious nowadays. Artists are thematically riddling their lyrics with the subject matter of current events, left and right, and it’s not entirely specific to genre. When the topic of “woke” artists comes to mind, most lean towards hip-hop and R&B. However, on his new album, Joseph Poole has endeavored to do this same thing, in a fashion true to the most horrific metal. He’s most popularly known as Wednesday 13, and even more so as the frontman of Murderdolls. In this context, he’s the proprietor of the early June release, Condolences, and it’s not exactly like what he’s done before.
Poole’s musically inclined output has always been slightly out of the ordinary when compared to chart norms, but that hasn’t stopped him from unapologetically exhibiting the strongest of his core musical values. Until his two most recent albums —2013’s The Dixie Dead and 2015’s Monsters of the Universe — Wednesday 13 had usually employed more of a horror-punk goth sound. The steady stray from this designation began with The Dixie Dead, and is basically complete now with Condolences, which sounds more like heavy metal than anything else. The album is musically a standout for devoted fans, but the incredibly grim theme of death adds another element of intrigue for newer listeners. Lyrically narrated through the eyes of both a killer and a victim, the album’s songs take inspiration from current events while maintaining metal’s caustic execution.
It’s written in the song titles alone. Condolences begins its murderous story with “Last Rites,” a slightly uncomfortable intro track of haunting growls, shoveled dirt and loops of whirred voices, which combine to create a psychotic feeling in the listener. “Cadaverous” takes that creepy psychosis even further, with Poole singing what is likely on the minds of sexually deviant murderers: “I’ve got a confession to make / I want to get inside of you / you’re all that I need / so let me proceed.” Chilling.
The album keeps up its eeriness throughout, hitting the hardcore drumming of “You Breathe, I Kill” and the strangely conflicting tones of “Cruel to You.” Sonically, the latter song is more upbeat than the others, but once Poole enters in with lyrics like, “I want to take a razor blade and mutilate your body,” it takes a turn for the gory.
The title track is probably the oeuvre of the album, standing at nearly seven minutes long. A somber piano intro leads into demonic chamber metal as Poole unapologetically chants, “Sorry for your loss / condolences.” Its outro piano lays the song and the album’s victim to rest as it fades into the LP’s closing track, “Death Infinity.”
As Wednesday 13’s eighth studio album, Condolences is definitely a mark of current times. Its pretty jarring account of murderous interactions could be triggering for many modern minds, but that’s not entirely surprising for a metal album.