“Look down at me, and you see a fool. Look up at me, and you see a god. Look straight at me, and you see yourself.” – Charles Manson
It’s a safe assumption that anyone worth their salt in the realms of pop culture or infamous criminals knows a thing or two about the man quoted above. I mean after all, the guy is only known by most adult humans as the ringleader behind what have countless times been referred to as the most heinous murders in American history. Manson and his “family” of hippy misfits creepy-crawled their way out of Spahn Ranch, brutally murdering their way through Los Angeles and into the nation’s collective subconscious forever in the late 1960’s. The guy was quick to make connections too, having been associated with Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys at one point. But that was a bit before Manson and his band of faithful followers descended on (and gruesomely ended) the lives of several people…a group including supermarket executive, Leno LaBianca, as well as the then pregnant actress Sharon Tate at the rented home of her and her film director husband, Roman Polanski. In the end, Charles Manson was found guilty of conspiring in the completion of the murders and still sits to this day in prison, for life. But his influence in art and music lives on, seen in the work of more mainstream acts even, from Guns n’ Roses to Marilyn Manson.
But we’re not talking about the mainstream, damn it. The topics of today’s discussion are Charles Manson and his apparent inspirational impact on the latest release from gore-and-horror-obsessed death horde, Necrophagia (whose name is roughly derived from the act of eating a corpse). Killjoy and the guys pay horrific tribute. Formed in Ohio way back in 1983, the band has unleashed five other full-length efforts over the years and survived various line-up changes, at one time featuring Pantera’s Phil Anselmo (a.k.a. Anton Crowley) among their ranks. Through it all, the twisted, mind-fuck death metal vision of vocalist Frank “Killjoy” Pucci has remained intact, as evident on the newest Necrophagia nightmare, Deathtrip 69 (Season of Mist).
Featuring cover art by renowned tattoo artist Jake Arnette, the record is filled to the blood-curdling brim with the kind of things long-time fans have come to expect. You know, lethal-as-fuck old school death metal, with tons of ominous horror film samples and an eerily disturbing mood that very few death metal bands can muster with any authenticity. But it doesn’t stop there. Guest appearances from Maniac of Mayhem and Skitliv fame as well as Casey Chaos (formerly of California hardcore/punk outfit, Amen) should get your blood boiling and skull thrashing about in a violently blissful manner. Songs like opener, “Bleeding Eyes of the Eternally Damned”, “A Funeral For Solange” and “Tomb with a View” all have more than enough horror-fueled ferocity to lay most mortals to rest. Killjoy’s trademark, “I’m gurgling the blood straight from your jugular” vocal rasp is strong throughout. Meanwhile, the nearly-instrumental “Trick R’ Treat (The Last Halloween)” provides a mid-record intermission with haunting atmospherics and acoustic passages. And if that weren’t enough, the title track is a seemingly impromptu acoustic ditty, lyrically revolving around drug consumption, creepy-crawl road trips and bloody hands in the California desert with Charlie, himself.
With the exception of style change in the title track and the instrumental, Deathtrip 69 is an otherwise solidly structured death metal outing that both longtime fans and newcomers alike will enjoy. Hail the horror!!