Webb Chapel Reviews 5 Classic Metal Albums

Zach Claxton of Webb Chapel

During the course of my conversation with Webb Chapel’s Zack Claxton a few weeks ago, It became apparent to me that, while Zack has a deep knowledge and appreciation of music culture and history, there was one genre where he was almost entirely oblivious. Metal. I took this opportunity to send 5 essential Metal albums to Zack, and asked him to share his thoughts and first impressions on how these albums made him feel. Zack dove in headfirst and absolutely crushed the assignment.

Bolt Thrower – Realm Of Chaos

I think this would be a fun album to listen to while playing doom.  It feels kind of like first person shootery.  Or maybe like the dudes in charge of the chainsaws at a haunted house who live nearby in sheds and make music on the weekends.  Or in the off season.  One of them smokes clove cigarettes for some reason.  And they have a burnt mattress in the backyard from ten years ago when things were getting a little out of hand.  the lead singer knows an impressive amount of French history.  His father was from France and he wants to visit but never has.  There’s a lot of French history buried in the lyrics.  And a work shed full of chainsaws.  They collect broken down chainsaws and paint different kinds of ghouls all over them.  They look amazing.  The lead singer painted the battle of Waterloo on one of them.  It’s impeccable in detail.  Sometimes if you look at it at night you can swear the horses are breathing.  Being in a chainsaw shed at night and trying to analyze the imagery inlaid in the saws is a tricky undertaking.   You want to turn them all on but you also don’t want to call attention to yourself.  Not sure how you would talk your way out of it if the cops came.  Which they never do but there’s a first time for everything.  Do you explain to the cops that you were trying to make the horses move or do you just grab your favorite 5 chainsaws and see what happens? 

“I may get blown away tonight but I swear one of you guys has a date with Napoleon.” 
“Speak up we can’t hear you over the saws”
“Something about linoleum?”
“You can stop yelling now the saws are long gone”
“Well I’ll be damned.  How’d you do that?”
“I assure you it was far easier than getting over Josephine.”
“I thought you’d never ask.  Yes, it is me.  I disguised myself as 4 policemen.  Your saw art summoned me here.  I had to test your decency in offering me a snack.  You passed with flying colors.  Now I will teach you everything I know.”

They walk arm in arm and disappear into a thicket.  The saws spin a lovely kind of low mourning tone as we lose sight of them.  Never to be seen again.

Hellhammer – Apocalyptic Raids EP

I appreciate this as being chord based metal. Very sabathy, lots of bar chords.  A welcome surprise, you could change this guys voice out with the singer from the cardigans and it would still sound the same.  Triumph of death as a track almost falls over into “just goofin” territory.  I think he’s reenacting getting eaten by a bear or something.  All to the sound of daddy’s first v guitar style riffage.  Very clunky but also inspired at certain moments.  We based our sound off drinking an empty beer with a cigarette butt in it.  Wow triumph of death just keeps going.  I feel like they were burning the midnight oil on this one and listened to it the next day and were just impressed that it was in any way coherent.  Call Jim Henson we got a new muppet act.  There was an ad for voting by mail right after that song.  Hey asshole, when you’re done excavating your great uncle’s metal archive would you mind giving a shit?

Corrupted – La victema es tu mismo 7″

This convinces you that you don’t have much longer to live.  In kind of a heinous way.  Like with unfinished business and your grave is next to a highway and under a billboard for a vasectomy reversal.  When even the people you met’s great grandchildren are long gone.  Yet still a cavernous face that dares you to challenge it 700 years later.  Or one day.  Am I smiling with you or at you?  All potential lifespans like different mismatched socks in a drawer at the bottom of the ocean.  Even if you find it you won’t be able to get it open.    And if you somehow cracked it open the socks are going to be frayed and full of holes and soaked through.  You bought 4000 dollars worth of scuba gear for this?  

You build a perfect life for yourself and 2 miles away someone is serving a life sentence for something they didn’t do.  Yet you still “find joy in the little things”

King Diamond – Abigail

What an unwelcome catapult back to reality.  Now I’m just kind of watching a b movie or something.  I can see Eastern Europe tearing the stadium down to this though.  I would like to bungee jump over a crowd listening to this in a big stadium.  You can’t deny the chops I suppose.  Yeah I’d like to give this guy a KARATE chop ya know?  Sometimes you just buy fireworks and set them off.  It’s not the same as being in a battle but some of the energy is comparable.  Or like a castlevania game for playstation that they just couldn’t get right.  The avatars all look the same and its full of glitches and you can’t save but the castle looks kind of cool and the cut scenes are at least kind of funny.  

Side note:  its undeniable that ‘the 7th day of July, 1777’ is one of the best songs about the Battle of Humbardton ever written

Cathedral – The Ethereal Mirror

Ok I’ve listened to five metal albums back to back and I’m not gonna lie my ears are kind of played out.  I think this one has my favorite cover.  It looks like a design draft for Shrek by someone who was immediately fired.  Why not a Shrek spinoff just called Donkey?  I want to know donkey’s back story.  His lineage dating back to the dark ages.  It would be exhausting in nature without a shred of humor.

I think this guy and Lemmy could arm wrestle and leave the table with a new found respect for each other.   He just said “Ooh yeah” like the koolaid man.  Are you allowed to say ooh yeah in metal?  That seems like immediate disqualification.  I think this and king diamond could be a great 2 band bill.  

I’d like to go into a motorcycle shop and see this album cover on the door to the bathroom.  Then you open the door and everything’s motorcycle themed.  The stall is a big tire that you piss into.  When you turn on the hot water it makes a revving sound.  The mirror does that thing like at the haunted mansion at Disney world where it looks like there’s a biker next to you riding a motorcycle.  You ask an employee if he liked that scene in Pee Wee where he dances to Tequila and the employee punches you in the face.  He breaks his hand and everybody respects you now.  It was your version of Tequila.  They all give you their keys at the same time and you say “What do you think I am, made out of pockets?”  A local TV executive does a spit take and leaves abruptly.  2 months later you’re watching tv and there’s an ad for a show called “What do you think I am, made out of pockets?”  It’s basically Tim Allen being handed an excessive amount of things over the course of an hour, prompting him to keep repeating the catchphrase over and over and over.  It catches like wildfire and all the political candidates pick it up too.  It’s a global phenomenon. You feel utterly ripped off but you’re at least content with the fact that you added to the cultural lexicon.

9 Questions with Webb Chapel

Strangemonorecords · Webb Chapel – 9 Questions Interview

“Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage.” -William S. Burroughs

I think about this Burroughs quote a lot. I always miss-remember or simplify it to “There’s a little man in all of us, trying to kill us”. Neurosis or self-doubt for sure, addiction of course. But I think this instinct is present at birth. I think that we are all driven to destroy ourselves in some way, its just how that drive manifests that’s important. Some people are able to harness that motivation and channel it into positivity, while others remain under its thumb. The homonyms raised and razed are especially interesting to me. They reflect in no uncertain terms the duality of human society. Are we meant to be building or destroying?

I invited Zack (Webb Chapel) over to eat some noodles and sit down in my basement to talk like minded people, enjoying the process, being shoe-horned, and being purposely evasive. Zack is one of the most emotionally articulate people that I have met in a long time. I think that fact is pretty apparent in his music, maybe not at first, but once you dive underneath the surface level; and listen with intent, the music becomes a portrait of inner reconciliation. Understated at times for sure, sometimes the message may be obscured , or it may take a few listens to grasp, but well worth the effort. Zack’s music is a puzzle for the ears. Earnest melodies and an intimate, sometimes uneasy, feeling. It’s my opinion that Webb Chapel is a whole-hearted endeavor that is so worthy and deserving of your time. 

Following the dissolution of Austin-based experimental band Beth Israel, Claxton began drawing in the margins, putting down sketches of ideas and song fragments that would eventually become the basis for Webb Chapel’s first two releases, Moverama and Like the Country. “I like the idea of dismantling songs as you’re listening to them. Sort of taking them apart and putting them back together.” When the lens focuses, however, you get a sense that this record comes from an altogether intentional, yet eerily chaotic time and place. As Claxton explains, “I’m kind of never in the same place for very long.” Dalmatians is a testament to the beauty in uncertainty. 

Webb Chapel‘s Dalmatians is available 9/16/22 on Strange Mono.

All proceeds from this album are being donated to Prevention Point to aid their mission of Harm Reduction and community support in the Philadelphia area.

Hana Sands – Webb Chapel || Video By Vince Alvare