The Murderdolls seem to have taken a...darker direction, if [the video for “My Dark Place Alone”] is any indication. Yeah, I know - they were already there, but not quite so serious. Murkier and more pessimistic than I’m used to from them.
That should be an indication of what Women And Children Last is about. For the uninitiated, the Murderdolls - mainly consisting of Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison, but also currently including Roman Surman, Jack Tankersley, and Racci Shay - is primarily one of the better shock-rock outfits out there today. Their first album, Beyond The Valley of The Murderdolls, was released eight years ago (!) and, as the title belies, contained horror-themed subject matter.
Most of a decade later, Jordison and Wednesday have found the time and opportunity to carry on the name. Whereas Beyond The Valley... was more about having fun, Women And Children Last cuts most of that out. There’s certainly some fun to be had - shock-rock minus the fun is damn near disastrous, as Marilyn Manson can attest to. Women And Children Last, however, is more focused and more polished than the Murderdolls’ first effort - even if not as infectious.
“The World According To Revenge” is less of an opening track and more of a warning - as if the album cover, Parental Advisory Label, and the names Wednesday 13 and Joey Jordison didn’t give it all away - to the listener what’s about to happen. What follows in “Chapel Of Blood” is a groovy juggernaut of murder, anti-religious imagery and general “don’t-fuck-with-us-ery”.
Lyrically, the Murderdolls stick to the shock-rock stocks of the trade, but they’ve amped up the game. Instead of dropping B-movie villain names and focusing on old movies, the Murderdolls now choose to focus on horrors that are real. For example (and since it’s already been referenced), the first video:
Murderdolls - “My Dark Place Alone”
Upon cursory listen, “My Dark Place Alone” disappears in to the murk of generic rebellion. Lines about razor blades and hand grenades have the feel of “been there, done that” until it’s realized that the song’s protagonist is an old, frail man unwillingly hanging on to life. The lament of a terminally ill patient isn’t your typical “shock” tactic.
Aside from the Murderdolls showing more of their storytelling technique, the performances this time out are much more refined. Beyond The Valley... was gloriously sloppy, and it suited that record (and its lyrics well). This time out, with the band getting a little more serious, the music had to follow suit as well. The piston grooves and precision pounding fit Women And Children Last almost too well, giving even common tracks like “Drug Me To Hell” a sidewinding allure. Others, like “Nowhere” and “Summertime Suicide” come with melodies that shouldn’t be allowed to accompany tracks about nihilism and self-destruction because they’re just too damn happy to fit. And yet, they still do.
The 411: Some of the rollicking fun and celebratory nature of giving the finger to political correctness may be missing here, but in its place is a certified direction. Great care was taken in the writing and recording of Women And Children Last to deliberately mark a point of maturation. There are times when the record takes itself a little more seriously than perhaps it should given the genre, but overall the murkier, more pessimistic feel works more often than not.