Music Review: Calabrese – “Dayglo Necros” (2012)

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Ever since the Misfits burst out of the crypt in the late 70’s to unleash horror punk into the world, other bands have offered their own takes on this witches’ brew of a genre, mixing heavy guitars, doo-wop harmonies, and everything from camp creepiness to straight up gore-filled imagery to define their sounds and make a name for themselves. While the Misfits themselves have staggered on, corpse-like, until their original sound has become nearly a parody of itself, perhaps no other modern horror punk band has been able to make this combination of hooks and horror work as much as Calabrese, the self professed “world’s greatest horror rock band,” a titled that, while probably assigned by its three members with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I’m inclined to say is 100% deserved.

“In the barren fields of the Arizona plains,” the real life brothers Bobby, Jimmy, and Davey Calabrese turned their sibling musicianship into a thriving monster of harmonic and horrific proportions. From their debut EP “Midnight Spookshow,” Calabrese has offered some of the best horror punk releases this side of the Misfits. Releasing their albums from their own “Spookshow Records,” the Calabrese brothers have a reputation not only for being some of the best horror-punks around, but having a devotion to their fan base that may be unmatched. Every release has been named by fans through a traditional contest, and their newest, “Dayglo Necros,” is no different.

“Dayglo Necros” is the latest offering from the brothers Calabrese, and not only does it continue their legacy as one of the most consistently badass horror-punk bands around, it manages to up their game, displaying their continued improvement – both upon the genre and as musicians. Following in the footsteps of their last album, “They Call Us Death,” the music of “Dayglo Necros” is hard, fast, and furious, and yet manages, at times, to keep the spirit and the “whoa-oh-ohs” of their earlier efforts, “13 Halloweens” and “The Traveling Vampire Show.” This melding of the earlier, poppier sounds of their first releases with the harder sound of their more recent work, “Dayglo Necros” manages to define the current sound of Calabrese, and that’s exactly what a new release should do.

Calabrese

Jimmy, Bobby, & Davey Calabrese

Opening with a creepy organ intro that segues immediately into Davey’s insanely intense drums, “The Dead Don’t Rise” kicks off the album and sets the mood for things to come. The boys of Calabrese know how to write a catchy riff, and the hard-hitting sounds just keep coming. “Coffin of Ruins” features some chugging guitars, an amazing bass line, and some of the best harmonies I’ve heard on any horror punk album to date. “Heart Possession” slows the proceedings down, but only by a notch or two, with a heavier guitar sound and Bobby’s driving vocals. “She Hasn’t Been Herself In Years” feels like a bit of a throwback to the older, poppier sounds of Calabrese, and that’s in no way a bad thing. Later in the album, “History of Nothing” offers a great mix of Calabrese’s signature sounds – combining Jimmy’s hard-pounding bass and some low-chugging guitar with one of the catchiest choruses on the album (complete with horror punk’s favorite war cry, “whoa-oh-oh,” that leads into a slower, harder bridge section in the middle of the song). “Bring Us Hell,” “Damned To The Night,” and the album closer “Sea of Dirt” finish things off with some of Calabrese’s harder sounds, and I can only say it’s the perfect way to close out the proceedings.

I’d be remiss to not discuss the physical copy of the release. While fans might opt for the more immediately available digital release, any Calabrese fan knows that a good portion of the joy of a Calabrese album comes from the amazing album artwork, and “Dayglo Necros” is no exception. Featuring artwork from Mark Kosobucki and Andrew Barr, the artwork sets the tone perfectly, from the gape-mouthed, staked vampire on the cover to an inlay featuring the brothers Calabrese driving that same stake home, the artwork evokes all the kooky horrors of the old E.C. Comics. Believe me when I say that even a horror cynic like myself can’t help but grin to think of how gleeful those Calabrese boys must have been to see themselves as vampire slayers. The physical copy of the album also features a complete lyrics sheet that doubles as a Calabrese poster on the back, complete with an awesome bastardization of the original tagline from the horror classic WILLARD:  “Where your nightmares end, DAYGLO NECROS begins!”

CalabresePoster

Where your nightmares end…

Awesome, hard-hitting, catchy as hell, and above all else, FUN, “Dayglo Necros” offers more of the same awesome Calabrese songs that fans have come to expect, and will hopefully bring new blood to the Calabrese fan base. Having the pleasure of meeting the Calabrese brothers at HorrorHound 2010, I know for a fact that these guys are the real deal – musicians that are as appreciative and just genuinely nice as they are amazing horror rockers. Maybe the personality of the band shouldn’t really come into play in a critical look at their records, but I say, at least with Calabrese, their attitude and love toward their fans has the same driving force as their songs; their love of horror, music, and their fans is extremely evident on each and every Calabrese release. I can honestly say that “Dayglo Necros” is one of my favorite releases this year, and that’s not specific to the horror punk genre. Calabrese has knocked it out of the park once again with an album full of catchy, killer tunes, and any fan of horror punk shouldn’t hesitate to grab this release as soon as they can get their bloody little hands on it. Make no bones about it: Calabrese IS the world’s greatest horror rock band!

Grab “Dayglo Necros,” and all other fine Calabrese releases, on their official website.

Rating: 5/5 ★★★★★ 

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About Nathan_E

Nathan Erdel is a screenwriter. He wrote Headless and some other stuff. He likes beer, metal, pizza, and horror. He has three cats and one wife.

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