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Butcher Babies - Take It Like a Man

Butcher Babies – CD Review
Take It Like a Man

Butcher Babies



CD Info
Century Media Records
12 Tracks
English Lyrics

I first noticed The Butcher Babies because of videos of their wild stage shows. Vocalists Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey have more energy on stage than just about anyone I’ve seen (even including Bruce Dickinson). They run, jump, headbang, and scream nonstop. You can see them in action in their latest music video, for the aptly named “Igniter,” here.

Musically, they are much less melodic than what I usually listen to. They cite thrash influences, and I might also call them metalcore. What this amounts to is music dominated by aggressive rhythms and even more aggressive vocals. While Butcher Babies have occasional vocal melodies, all of the other instruments, even the guitars, are used to create rhythms, not melodies and not really even riffs -- just relentless, frenzied beats meant to drive a crowd wild.

Overlaid onto this are Heidi’s and Carla’s powerful vocals. They mostly scream, alternating in pitch and timbre in an engaging way, and sometimes sing cleanly. This combination works very well to create an intense expression of passion and ferocity. On the new album, Take It Like a Man, you can hear this variety in their vocals in the opening track, “Monsters Ball,” here.

Butcher Babies’ music seems designed to energize a live audience. Indeed, I saw an interview with Heidi and Carla, in which they said one of the main goals for the new album was achieving the kind of sound that causes the biggest reaction in a live crowd.

I dig that, and would love to see them live (and am sad that I must miss their upcoming show in San Diego). But when just listening to the album, I do wish it were more melodic. I think they could achieve the same intensity (and more) while overlaying a layer of melodic guitar, like Arch Enemy. I also think in general that intense parts of music seem more intense when juxtaposed with quiet parts (like Iron Maiden or Nightwish). Butcher Babies do this some (and get it just right on their prior cover of “They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”), but I think they could benefit from doing it more. Take It Like a Man consists of eleven relentless assault songs, only some of which contain brief moments of respite. There is also a twelfth song, a ballad with clean vocals called “Thrown Away,” which I would like to see more of. You can hear that here. On the flipside, I don’t think any single song on Take It Like a Man matches the power of my favorite Butcher Babies song, “Jesus Needs More Babies for His War Machine,” from their self-titled 2012 EP. That said, I really enjoy rocking out to “Monsters Ball,” “Igniter,” “Blood Soaked Hero,” and “Dead Man Walking, ” among others, on the new album.

Some people on the Internet criticize Butcher Babies as lacking musical talent and being all about Heidi and Carla’s stunning looks. I think these critics are just showing their prejudice against female metalheads and missing the point of the band’s sound. Sure, the band’s extreme style is not for everyone, and if you require a lot of melody, you should look elsewhere. But if part of metal’s appeal for you is raw emotion, fast beats, and intense vocals, Butcher Babies has talent to spare. Sure, the singers are also gorgeous, with amazing hair, but that’s just a visual bonus. I’m sure Heidi and Carla could find many ways to make more money off their looks than being in an extreme metal band. They sing metal because they have a passion for it.

Those not familiar with the band might also be curious about their name. As detailed on Wikipedia, the name Butcher Babies is taken from the Plasmatics song “Butcher Baby,” and Wendy O. Williams is Heidi and Carla’s biggest inspiration as a female pioneer in metal. This also explains Heidi and Carla’s live performances in Wendy-style nipple-tape in the early years of Butcher Babies. However, they have now moved away from that look, probably because doing so has helped them find a wider audience.

Butcher Babies will be on tour across North America in November, with Amaranthe. That should be a great combination! You can learn more on Facebook.