2) Dead Carolina
3) Haunt Me
5) Morgue Than Words
6) Curse Of Me
7) Welcome To The Strange
8) Scary Song
9) We All Die
10) Ghost Stories
11) Transylvania 90210
Let me start this review by stating the obvious: Horrorpunk is not exactly the first genre you think will lend itself well to the unplugged format. While at times you will encounter the slower songs or even ballad-like tunes, usually closing out many albums, for the most part horrorpunk is about being fast and full of energy, much like the horror movie genre. For the well-established Wednesday 13, doing a fully acoustic album certainly seemed like a risky venture. Going through his own back catalogue, including tracks from Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, Murderdolls as well as his own solo career, Wednesday 13 chose certain songs that he would be able to strip down to the bare essence. To help show that he knew what he was doing, he also embarked on a small UK tour playing stripped down shows. So the question remains, would the risk pay off?
Thankfully, for the most part, the answer is yes. As mentioned above, Wednesday has wisely chosen the best tracks from his extensive career to strip down and give the acoustic treatment. Beginning with the short intro track Undead, you are immediately put at ease from any worries that things aren’t going to work on this album. Wednesday‘s trademark raspy vocals are also toned down in order to work within the confines of the effort. Moving onto Dead Carolina from his 2008 solo album Skeletons, we get our first real taste of a song being ripped apart from a fast punk anthem into an almost ballad. While Dead Carolina isn’t the strongest track on the album, it is a good example of Wednesday 13 knowing what makes his songs work, and knowing the proper way to adjust them.
Following is Haunt Me from 2005’s Transylvania 90210: Songs Of Death, Dying And The Dead. Already one of his slower efforts, Haunt Me is a highlight of the album, needing very little change from its origins. With Nowhere, we get our first taste of a song not off of one of the man’s solo efforts, coming from the 2010 Murderdolls album Women And Children Last. This was one of the songs that I was concerned about undergoing the transition, but the argument can easily be made that the song actually becomes better. Given that Nowhere has been a favorite track of mine for several years, this is some very high praise. We then go back to his solo catalogue visiting Morgue Than Words, from 2006’s Fang Bang. As can be expected, not every song on the album transitions as well, and Morgue Than Words, while still working as an acoustic track, just doesn’t seem to fit in as strongly as much of the rest of the album.
Going back to a song that began as a slower tune, Curse Of Me, also from Fang Bang, immediately stands out as the strongest track on the album. The sense of love and care put into the song makes one immediately think that it very well could have been this song that gave Wednesday the inspiration to try an unplugged album. Welcome To The Strange, a B-side from the 2002 Murderdolls debut album Beyond The Valley Of The Murderdolls, which had also appeared on the soundtrack to the 2003 film Freddy Vs. Jason. This song was actually the very first song I had ever heard from any project featuring Wednesday 13 all those years ago, and it stands out with the new treatment. Truth be told, Welcome To The Strange has never really been a favorite track of mine, but this new rendition seems to make the song better in my opinion. We then get the only song on the album that originated with Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 in Scary Song, originally from 1999’s Night Of The Living Drag Queens. I have heard some comparisons with this album having the vibe of sitting around hanging out with Wednesday 13 as he serenades a group with the songs, and with Scary Song this is no more apparent.
As the album draws to a close we get some more recent tracks, beginning with the stripped down sing-along track We All Die from 2011’s Calling All Corpses followed by Ghost Stories from his most recent full-length album, 2013’s The Dixie Dead. Both of these songs were clearly chosen for inclusion due to the fact that they were far and away the most susceptible tracks from their respective albums for the bared down treatment. Finally, revisiting his solo debut once again, the albums wraps up with Transylvania 90210. Given that the original song was already almost an unplugged track, there wasn’t a lot of change needed for this one.
Overall, Wednesday 13 shows that even one of the world’s most popular horrorpunks still has a few tricks up his sleeve. More diehard fans may be a little upset at the exclusion of material from some of his other projects like his original band Maniac Spider Trash, his more straight-ahead rock project Gunfire 76 or the hilarious outlaw country Bourbon Crow, but given that those bands are nowhere near as well-known as the projects included, it makes sense. With Undead Unplugged we get to see a different side of Wednesday 13, and while some may say that it isn’t required listening, it is without a doubt something that any fan will be proud to have included in their collection.
Given that Wednesday has already announced his next full-length album entitled Monsters Of The Universe will be released in January of 2015, it will be interesting to see if this little detour in his career has an effect on the music that will come with that album. I can assure you that I will be keeping a close eye as 2015 draws nearer, and of course, once the album is released you will see a review right here on The Deadhouse!
You can pick up a physical copy of Undead Unplugged in record stores now, as well as grab a digital copy from places like Xbox Music and iTunes now. Be sure to follow Wednesday 13 on his Twitter page, on Facebook and also on Instagram!