1) Black Mountain Backstep
2) A Blind Bargain
4) Starlite Decay
5) Mary And The Storm
6) Midnight Mile
7) Lady In The Lake
8) Terror In The Haunted House
9) Genus Unknown
10) Demon Machine
11) The Torn Prince
12) The Trunk
13) Carve Out A Heart
14) Five Cellars Below
While for the most part reviews here on The Deadhouse cover newer albums from up and coming bands, I will occasionally revisit older albums that had a huge impact either on myself or on the horrorpunk genre itself. This review is one of those. In 2006, the mighty Blitzkid released Five Cellars Below, which some will argue is their finest album. During their 2012 farewell tour, they released a remastered version of that album. For the most part it is identical with some intricacies that can be heard on a few of the songs (one major difference is the closing moments of Carve Out A Heart) but it did drop one song, the cover of Concrete Blonde‘s Bloodletting. With that said, let’s dive into one of my absolute favorite albums of all time.
The album kicks off with Black Mountain Backstep which is just over a minute of pure in your face punk rock. The intro segues nicely into A Blind Bargain, which is another short song that sees bassist and vocalist Argyle Goolsby make short work of the verses, while the chorus is anchored by horrorpunk staple “whoa-ohs”. Dementia sees guitarist and vocalist TB Monstrosity take over on vocals with the band’s ode to notorious serial killer Ed Gein (who inspired several films ranging from Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Silence Of The Lambs among many others). Dementia stands out from the first two tracks on the album in that it isn’t as aggressive, and is the first song on the album with a straight sense of melody.
The band’s ode to the drive-in with Starlite Decay, which has long been a favorite of many Blitzkid fans, and was a permanent fixture in the band’s live sets. The use of the saxophone in the backing music also helps the song stand out from the other tracks not only on this album, but throughout the band’s whole discography. The band slows down for the almost eerie Mary And The Storm. The song is one of the more mellow songs in the entire Blitzkid discography, but its put together so well that it does not disrupt the flow of the album. Midnight Mile turns it back up, and is a fast punky love song that I can only describe as a fun tune.
Moving back to a slower state, Lady In The Lake is another favorite of many fans, and once you listen to it, it’s easy to see why. An incredible song with great vocals from Monstrosity that have a sense of loss and pain, which goes hand in hand with the theme of the song. Terror In The Haunted House is a slice of pure unadulterated horrorpunk fun. A catchy beat and vocals perfect for a sing a long at live shows, Haunted House is one of the stronger tracks on the album. However, the next song blows it out of the water. Genus Unknown is the band’s take on the infamous Mothman. The song is fast and heavy without sacrificing melody. No word of a lie, Genus became one of my favorite songs upon the first time I heard it, it really is that good.
Demon Machine is undoubtedly the fastest and heaviest song on the album, with TB singing of the ultimate evil car, which from what I understand is actually based on one of the band’s old cars. Almost as a complete 180 of the previous song, The Torn Prince is a slower ballad love song, and certainly one of the stronger tracks on the album. There is a strong sense of longing throughout the song that makes it even more effective. The Trunk follows, and reverts back to a very strong and quick punk feel. As many Blitzkid fans are likely aware, the demo version of The Trunk that the band performs in a more stripped down manner, and to be honest, I always much preferred that version. That isn’t to say that this version is bad, far from it, but which version anybody prefers will truly boil down to personal preference.
And now for a full disclosure before I discuss the next track, Carve Out A Heart. It is my favorite song of all-time. Everything about this song, whether it be this remastered version or the original, is absolutely perfect to me. The sense of pain strewn throughout both the lyrics and the music, as well as Monstrosity‘s vocals grabbed me the first time I heard this song several years ago, and has never really let me go. There is rarely a day that goes by that I do not listen to this song at least once, it truly is that good. I could sit here all day and write about the different aspects that put the song together and make it so strong and memorable, but I will simply say this: Carve Out A Heart is an absolutely perfect song in my estimation.
The album closes with the title track. A fast and catchy love song based upon The Phantom Of The Opera, the track (once again, in my mind as it follows my favorite track ever) follows up on Carve Out A Heart and does an incredibly admirable job, and was a favorite of many Blitzkid fans, as Goolsby sings of a love that is doomed, but pursued nonetheless. With this track the band closes out a great and varied album of horrorpunk that some may say was the strongest album ever put together by Blitzkid.
I would say that this review allowed me to revisit one of my favorite albums ever, but the truth is I still listen to this album quite frequently. Five Cellars Below truly has something for everyone, from fast and brutal punk songs, to ballads that are strong enough they can truly hit the listener, there isn’t a bad track on the album.
Five Cellars Below can be found on all digital music services such as iTunes or Xbox Music. If you do not have this album in your collection, do yourself a favor and remedy that immediately. Believe me, you will not be disappointed. The only downside to the remaster is that it does not include the band’s cover of Concrete Blonde‘s Bloodletting as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, but it makes up for it by including a handful of demo tracks which I did not review here but are all great and interesting in their own right. And of course, as always…. LONG LIVE THE HORROR!
Carve Out A Heart