Album Review: JuiceheaD – “How To Sail A Sinking Ship”

When I find  a CD that was released by “Misfits Records” I expect it to fall into one of three categories.

1) Jerry Only is in the band (Misfits, Osaka Popstar).

2) It’s a band that sounds a lot like the Misfits (Balzac).

3) It’s an odd instrumental lounge cover album (The Nutley Brass).

So when I first discovered JuiceheaD‘s album “The Devil Made Me Do It”, a few years back, I had an idea of what I was getting into. JuiceheaD are a three-piece from Chicago that fall into the second category. At times they do sound like the post-Danzig Misfits, but surprisingly not always. “The Devil Made Me Do It” pulled inspiration from many sources besides the songs written by Jerry Only, Michale Graves and of course Glenn Danzig. Hell, a few of those songs even had a reggae vibe to them. But still, the songs weren’t quite good enough to make me a big JuiceheaD Fan. Out of the sixteen tracks that were on that album, I really only liked three of them, but those three were good enough to make me want to hear what the band did next.

Over three years have passed and JuiceheaD has finally released the album “How To Sail A Sinking Ship”, was it worth the wait? I guess that depends on how much you like the band but I will tell you this, “How To Sail A Sinking Ship” is a much better CD than the previous one. This new album seems more cohesive than “The Devil Made Me Do It” and while some of the Misfits ‘sound’ is still there it seems like the band have made a conscious effort to further separate themselves from their record labels namesake. While the album still falls into the horror-punk genre, JuiceheaD have brought more of a modern punk sound to the forefront on this release. The guitars have a crisp sound that is upfront in the mix, a big departure from the down-tuned, distorted quality the instrument usually expresses in this type of music. The production on “How To Sail A Sinking Ship” also gives the drums and bass a chance to stand out, the mix is done so well that the vocals and each instrument can be heard clearly throughout the CD (another feat that is rarely done in horror-punk).

As for the songs themselves, they’re mostly played fast and have an upbeat feel (even “Lorraine”, the one about drowning a stripper), but JuiceheaD  continue to try to broaden the horror-punk landscape. In addition to the scary movie music normally present in this genre, they bring in a Celtic feel with the bagpipe intro on “When I Fall From Grace”, some old school fuck authority punk with “Disenchanted Youth” and some more reggae (several songs). But even with the added influences, the songs still sound like they are all from the same CD. This album does not feel like a collection of disconnected tracks where the only thing that keeps them together is the fact that they were released as a unit. Something that usually happens when a band tries to bring too much to the table.

But even with all the good things that “How To Sail A Sinking Ship” has going for it, I still can’t say that I loved this CD (as apparent by my three star rating). It comes off as a little boring in my opinion. There aren’t any songs on here that I would say are bad, simply a lot of them that are just OK. The length of the disc doesn’t help much either, the disc has twenty songs and lasts an hour. This CD is just too long (something you’ll rarely hear me say). If they’d have cut some of the so-so songs off this release they could have put out a much stronger record that clocked in at around forty plus minutes.

Still, this album shows an improvement over “The Devil Made Me Do It”, so that’s a good thing. Hopefully they can continue to improve on their next release.

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