L.A.’s Butcher Babies have always stood out from the crowd. While many bands have dual vocalists, it’s usually metalcore groups with a singer and a screamer or symphonic or gothic metal bands featuring “beauty and the beast” vocals. With Butcher Babies, it’s beauty and the other beauty. Their third album Lilith features the thrash, groove and ‘core they’ve displayed on past albums, and it’s also their first record with new drummer Chase Brickenden.
The album gets off to an intense start with “Burn the Straw Man,” featuring heavy guitars and harsh vocals from Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey. It’s one of the most aggressive tracks on the record, which has a lot of different facets. Harvey says, “With this album we dove in fully and drowned ourselves in emotion, sexuality and even turmoil, and let the two-headed beast we created has emerged even stronger.”
Those facets are all on display on the title track, which blends heaviness, a combination of screams, growls and singing, and atmosphere. Harvey reveals, “’Lilith’ became our title track for a reason; it perfectly encompasses the mood of our third studio album with a groove that drips sensuality while remaining heavy hitting. The vocals on this song run the gamut between soaring harmonies to the deep growls and screams that we’ve become known for in our eight years as a band. The lyrics are a glimpse at not only the classic Lady Bathory tale, but a look at ageism in today’s society and the idea that some women will do anything to maintain their youthful beauty.”
“Headspin” starts with a sultry spoken word part before kicking in with one of the disc’s catchiest choruses. A gothic keyboard beginning leads into a heavy groove on “Korova,” with Shepherd and Harvey trading throat-splitting screams and teaming up for harmonies on the melodic chorus.
This is the most diverse album Butcher Babies have released. Neck snapping metal and mosh-ready metalcore are contrasted by tracks like “Look What We’ve Done,” a radio friendly power ballad with mostly melodic singing. But while having some of the most fully realized songs of their career, Lilith also has some that don’t reach those heights. The Garbage-meets-metalcore “Controller” doesn’t quite click, while “Pomona (S—t Happens)” has a great groove but lyrics and a chorus that’s basically a chant of curse words. It will probably kill live, though.
They bounce back however with closer “Underground and Overrated” that has some of the album’s best riffs from guitarist Henry Flury and a lot of swagger. There’s no question Butcher Babies are a polarizing band who have some detractors, but Lilith will certainly earn them plenty of new converts.