This recent run of popularity for Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein comes a little out of nowhere. Doyle’s place in music history is certainly assured, having been a fixture for the Misfits. Yet, Doyle never seemed to possess the stature (gargantuan physical size notwithstanding) to float an entire project by himself and appeared more likely to forever be typecast as Jerry Only’s monolith of a brother. Yet, Doyle has reunited with Misfits legend Dr. Chud and here we are talking about an album with “Doyle” emblazoned across the top.
The first impression of Doyle’s “Abominator” is a “hey, what gives?” moment, and an unfortunate side effect of Doyle’s Misfits legacy. The feeling is a product of the fact that the songs on “Abominator” are all over three minutes, which seems unbelievable. Nonetheless, in a backward and probably unintentional way, this helps to prove that Doyle can be an artist of his own accord.
Several trends remain intact, however. There are still the requisite songs about blood, death and carnal relations with dead bodies (in that order.) In particular, “Cemeterysexxx” covers just about all of those topics in bizarro-sweet detail, a twisted tale of love and lust. Campy though it may be (and exceptionally campy at that,) the material doesn’t seem as poignant or deliciously sarcastic in 2013. This raises the sort of metaphysical, universalistic questions that metal and punk find themselves facing in this new millennium regarding the nature of theme and validity and context. In any event, that subtext is not a fault of Doyle’s songwriting or “Abominator,” which accomplishes its goals with ease.
Musically, “Abominator” only bears some resemblance to the punk roots that Doyle is borne from, but does still reflect much of the straightforward rock and roll blues that so characterizes the genre. There is little in the form of virtuosity, but there doesn’t need to be; songs like the title track and “Headhunter” provide enough emphasis that the musical message is clear and undisturbed (well, disturbed, but…you get the idea.)
“Abominator” goes through highs (the excellent “Learn to Bleed”) and lows (“Valley of Shadows” is a pretty heavy dud,) but finishes strong with “Bloodstains” and “Hope Hell is Warm,” two songs helped into an upper echelon by the cranked-to-eleven vocal performance of veteran Alex Story, who howls his words throughout both.
This album plays much in the same vein as another New York/New Jersey metal record this year, A Pale Horse Named Death’s “Lay My Soul to Waste.” The music is solid and enjoyable, and if APHND has just a little more edge, Doyle has a greater range and is slightly more versatile. Of course, it bears repeating that “Abominator” is also loaded with camp and sardonic, graphic imagery, trading in subtle metaphor for an approach more similar to Misfits-with-Graves era hits like “Dig Up Her Bones.”
“Abominator” suffers from no particular fundamental deficiencies and establishes Doyle, and Dr. Chud I suppose, as viable solo artists. It’s a fun, if not earth-shattering ride, and worth a few spins to see if it fits you. If there is such a thing as a summer metal album as there used to be in rock (Mungo Jerry, anyone?) this may be it.