It goes without saying that Pantera frontman Philip Anselmo has enough anger to go around. His first album of the year, Down’s II (Elektra), was a hard-boogying death ride to the fringes of stoner rock. His latest project, Superjoint Ritual, are altogether more frightening: as the burning mess of pot leaves, pentagrams, and pitchforks on the cover of their debut disc suggests, the band’s violent tales and bludgeoning assault take Anselmo’s macabre vision to a new extreme.
Superjoint Ritual began more than 10 years ago as a loose collaboration among Anselmo and Louisiana buddies Jimmy Bower (Down, Eyehategod) and Joe Fazzio. They recorded this album a few years ago with Dead Horse frontman Michael Haaga on bass; their current touring bassist is none other than Hank Williams III. Anselmo thanks boxers and horror films for lyrical inspiration, and the barreling "Antifaith" just about sums up his outlook: "Discord, fear, psychosis, then the grave." The band share their disembodied Southern bluesiness with Pantera and Down, but their punked-up rhythms are more frantic than anything Pantera have done in years. The twin centerpieces "4 Songs" and "Superjoint Ritual" build monstrous piles of depraved riffage, proving once again that Anselmo’s twisted creative impulses can’t be contained by rock stardom alone.
(Superjoint Ritual perform this Tuesday, June 11, at the Palladium in Worcester. Call 508-797-9696.)