Review

Review

Wednesday 13: Bloodwork

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After slipping off the radar for a year or two, horror-rocker Wednesday 13 (aka Joseph Poole) resurfaced with the release of the brain-damaged puppet show DVD Weirdo-a-Go-Go, and a self-released album, Skeletons, which promised a more somber, less playful approach than its predecessors.

Rumor has it the Bloodwork EP was not originally intended for digital download until some time after the release of the full-length Skeletons in late April. But for reasons not entirely made clear (it may in fact have been an accident), the EP was uploaded to iTunes before its scheduled release date, preceding Skeletons by several weeks. The band ultimately decided to keep Bloodwork available online, but limited sales of the physical CD to their concerts only for the time being. That said, it's a no-brainer for fans of the album to shell out five or so bucks for some additional tracks.

If you haven't had a chance to hear Skeletons, you may not be fully aware just how much the ex-Murderdoll has darkened his outlook... but with the lumbering opening track ?B-Movie Babylon,? this EP will pound that concept into your skull with a railroad spike. The ooga-booga ?naughty spookshow? elements that informed Transylvania 90210 and Fang Bang are still in place, but even those have been downtuned from kitsch-pop window dressing to more deliberately unsettling atmosphere.

The formerly playful, trashy punk attitude has been largely shoved aside in favor of a rage-filled, sneering metal assault, and Wednesday's vocals sound grittier and sleazier than ever, even despite a very clean production style. Nipping at your heels (and skull) comes the up-tempo second cut ?Return Of The Living Dead,? paying lyrical homage to the film of the same name (even referencing the lines ?I can smell your brain? and ?Send more paramedics!?) and ramping up the menace while hanging on to a bit of gruesome fun.

A genuine oddity follows with a cover of Tom Petty's ?Runnin' Down A Dream,? ranking pretty high on the list of least-likely candidates for horror punk remakes... but it actually works in a backhanded way... that urgent descending riff that characterized the original is transformed into a desperate charge into hell, and the lyrics adapt well to Wednesday's demoniacally determined snarl; the whole thing sounds a bit like an anthem for Death Proof's high-octane psychopath, Stuntman Mike.

?I Love To Say F**k? (which, quite helpfully, had the word [EXPLICIT] right next to the uncensored title after I downloaded it) is exactly what it sounds like ? an impressive collection of F-bombs useful for just about every situation our protagonist finds himself in... and he apparently finds a lot of them. At least he heads off one verse by kindly adding, ?Well, I hope I don't offend you when I say the word f**k,? before berating the listener as ?a worthless little f**k.? Sure, at the end of the day it's little more than a novelty record, but just between you and me I think I've just found my new ringtone: ?One nation under f**k with liberty-f**king-justice for all!?

After that, the following two tracks feel like a sudden slam on the brakes, as we are treated to ?softer? versions of two tracks from Skeletons, including the title track and ?My Demise.? The low-key treatment calls more attention to the tragic lyrics, which reflect the artist's own sense of uncertainty during a trying period in his life. Of these, ?Skeletons? is superior (as is the original version), rendered in acoustic guitar and a faint piano strain, the lyrics capturing the pain of a man who knows he's spiraling out of control and doesn't care enough to stop it.

A cool summertime treat for kids who usually shy away from sunlight, Bloodwork is worth picking up as a six-dollar download, even if you already intend to grab up the limited-run CD at the band's next show. As of this writing, it's actually easier to get a hold of than Skeletons, but that will probably change soon. Either way, get it while you can.

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