Butcher Babies are a band that is easy to love or easy to hate dependent upon your tastes and point of view. They are provocative and polarizing with seemingly little room for middle ground when it comes to one’s take on it. However, the truth, as it so often does, falls somewhere in the middle, at least with regard to the band’s sophomore full-length effort, Take it Like a Man.
The SoCal-based quintet gained initial notoriety due to the beauty and blatant sexuality of its two vocalists, Carla Harvey and Heidi Shepherd. While they toned down that imagery somewhat to place the focus on the music, many fans gravitate to them because of it, and others blow them off because of it. The band’s 2013 debut, Goliath, further divided the masses, while their live shows garnered them a slew of fresh fans. Last year saw the release of their Uncovered EP, which increased their footprint on the metal scene, but Take it Like a Man should be the album that pushes the Butcher Babies up the hill or knocks them down the ladder. So far the reviews run the gamut from “absolute shite” to “one of the best rock albums of the decade.” Okay, so the last guy needs to turn in his journalist credentials, but you get the idea. No one seems to be without an extreme position.
Take it Like a Man continues to showcase the band’s thrash and groove elements while also adding more industrial nuances. Shepherd and Harvey’s vocal delivery, which is sometime a bit too similar to work as well as it might, remains one of the Butcher Babies strengths. In fact, the musicianship of all the members; guitarist Henry Flury, bassist Jason Klein, and drummer Chris Warner, is exceptional throughout the record. Even the production by Logan Mader (Machine Head, W.A.S.P., Cavalera Conspiracy) is masterful.
A song like “Monster’s Ball” highlight’s the band’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humor while also delivering a brutal boot to the jaw. “Never Go Back” hits with a bombastic and bouncy vibe, while “Thrown Away” taps into the band’s more emotive side. “Blood Soaked Hero” has a biting groove, and is perhaps the strongest track on the record. “Blond Girls All Look the Same” is a vicious speed metal massacre.
Butcher Babies continue to push the envelope and amp up the attitude and aggression on Take it Like a Man. It stands as a solid sophomore effort, that fans will love and haters will continue to hate. There remains no middle ground, but that is exactly where this record falls. The songs are good, but somewhat generic. Nothing overtly new or particularly memorable here, but certainly not bad either. If not for the Shepherd and Harvey fronting the group, they would likely not get terribly far with this effort, but in rock and roll the imagery and passion can be equal to the power of the music. Butcher Babies have no shortage of desire and determination, which means their third album could be a statement for the band. The showmanship and talent are there, they just need to continue to improve in the songwriting department to set themselves apart.
Take it Like a Man releases August 21 through Century Media Records. The band will be on tour with GWAR and Battlecross this fall.