2) Whatever Happened
3) Sadie Hawkins
4) Beach Bunny Babylon
6) Worried Sick
7) Another Homicide
Murderland are back! It has been five long years since the band released new material, which was of course 2011’s Prelude To A Kill (check out the Stereo Terror review from 2014 here). It seemed that everything had been quietly laid to rest in the Murderland camp, when about a month ago the band emerged with a new song, Whatever Happened, and the announcement that a new album, entitled Splitsville was set for a March 2016 release. Given that Murderland were one of the bands that I first really became a fan of when I first started getting into the horrorpunk genre over half a decade ago with 2007’s Lights Out, I was understandably excited. But would the five year layoff have an effect on the band or their sound?
Beginning with a sample from the 1945 film The Lost Weekend (how’s that for an obscure reference?) the title track opens the album and lays all fears about the band immediately to rest. Almost every track on the album would have easily fit in on either Lights Out or Prelude To A Kill despite the years separating them. Frontman Mike Murder sounds just as crisp as he did throughout the band’s back catalogue, bringing an indescribable amount of energy to the music. As I mentioned in my review of Prelude To A Kill, Murderland create a killer pop-punk sound, and let the horror seep through the lyrics. This is clearly a band who you could easily hear on the radio sandwiched between crap like blink-182 or Fall Out Boy, except for the fact that they are singing about being “a walking autopsy”.
Whatever Happened was a wise choice for the band to release as the first look at the new album, as it encapsulates pretty much everything the band does so well. The killer sound and the morbid lyrics (although compared to both of the band’s previous albums, Splitsville does play it a little safer, almost moving away from the horror aspects a little bit) that come together oh so very well. The chorus to Whatever Happened will be locked inside your head for weeks to come after your first listen. Sadie Hawkins continues the trend of fast-paced punk with a ridiculously catchy chorus once again. I can only imagine that at any live shows the band plays would have the whole building singing along to the choruses that the band puts together. It’s almost ridiculous how catchy they are, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Beach Bunny Babylon is another fun song and serves as the middle-point of the album wonderfully. Gerianne starts with a slow introduction that almost seems out of place on the album, but quickly throws it all together back to the band’s signature sound. Gerianne is likely the closest to a love song that listeners will ever get from Murderland, and also brings the band back towards the darker lyrics with the introduction of a butcher knife to the songs story.
Worried Sick is another catchy as hell track which I can easily see being a favorite amongst Murder-fans. It has a different feel to it, but I cannot quite put my finger on why exactly. But truthfully, it doesn’t really matter since the song is just awesome. Another Homicide, which closes out the all-too-short album, begins with a hilarious sample from one of the greatest animated characters of all-time, Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama. I won’t spoil what Zoidberg moment is used, but just know you are in for a good laugh if you have any sense of humor whatsoever. The song itself is pretty straight-forward given the track’s name, and the latter half of the album introduces some female backing vocals that help take the track to a higher level. While the band has never had any real need for additional backing vocals (seriously, Murderland have some of the best backing vocals in all of the horrorpunk genre) the inclusion of female vocals, regardless of how brief their appearance is, adds to the track greatly.
As a long-time Murderland fan, I can’t begin to explain how pumped I was to hear this album. The only real downside is that it is only seven tracks and it seems like the album is over far too soon. After a five-year hiatus, more tracks would have been appreciated by listeners worldwide. That said, Splitsville is wrapped tightly in greatness and all of the tracks flow together wonderfully. Some listeners, myself included, may not find that it is as great of an album as 2011’s Prelude To A Kill, but it is a different album by a band that is surely not the same as they were five years ago. If you’ve ever been a fan of anything the band has done in the past, I can assure you that Splitsville will not disappoint. And if you’ve never heard the band, this is as good an album as any to check out first.
You can grab your own copy of Splitsville as well as the entire Murderland back catalogue and other merch at the Murderland BandCamp page, and be sure to give the band a Like on the Official Murderland Facebook page!