Prowler - After you 3.5/5

Reviewed: 5-1-13


1. The dead rise again
2. Friday the 13th
3. Say hello to the nite
4. Whats your pleasure
5. The stalker
6. Knives for fingers
7. Haddonfield
8. The tall man
9. Book of the dead

The idea of combining heavy metal and horror movies is as old as heavy metal itself. What was Black Sabbath’s eponymous tune if not an homage to the horror movies that inspired the Birmingham lads? The history of the genre is littered with examples of other bands that have followed suit. There was Dokken kibitzing with Freddie Krueger in the “Dream warriors” video, or basically every song King Fowley ever wrote in Deceased, or Widow’s early recordings, or Iced Earth’s ‘Horror show’, or S.O.D., or F.K.U., or any of countless others. So when South Carolina’s Prowler opted to create their own unholy union of blistering heavy metal with beloved stories from horror cinema circa the 60s to 80s, they weren’t exactly breaking new ground. The execution of this concept, however, is somewhat novel because it is more comprehensive and all-encompassing than most other bands’ dalliances with scary gore flicks. On their recently released debut CD, ‘After you’, on the reputable Slaney Records label, Prowler have linked each song to a different well-known classic slasher film, both lyrically and (in many cases) via frequent accompanying movie samples interwoven in the songs. So ‘After you’ features odes to Evil Dead and Friday the 13th, to Halloween and Hellraiser, to Night of the Living Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s a cool effect, albeit a touch gimmicky.

Given the horror film orientation, you might expect theatrical Mercyful Fate-type music or extreme Cannibal Corpseisms. Neither preconceived notion would be correct. Instead the trio plays a rockin’, blue-collar, unpretentious sort of classic metal with nods to Metallica and the NWOBHM (that riff in “Say hello to the nite” reminds me a lot of “Breadfan” or the one in “The stalker” is a variation of the Hetfield/Ulrich riff in “No remorse”, for instance). Prowler definitely flirts with the thrash realm at times (see the Mustaine-ish “Knives for fingers” or the even thrashier “The tall man”, the latter of which is replete with raspier half-whispered accents). In contrast to most of the Slaney Records roster, though, I wouldn’t classify Prowler as a full-blown thrash act by any stretch of the imagination. Riffs are simple and effective, and vocalist Patrick Best has a mid-range twangy gruff yet tuneful snarl that is reminiscent of young Hetfield. The playing is good, the production values are fine, and the songs plunge onward like steamrollers leveling all in their path. Prowler are at their best when they amp up the catchy elements in their music, like on the instantly memorable “Haddonfield” (you’ll be singing along with the part about Michael Myers coming home to Haddonfield in no time) or the killer opener “The dead rise again”.

This brings me to my one niggling reservation about ‘After you’. I’m not a horror movie buff. Never was. Sure, like every other teenager of the 80s, I saw my share of Freddie Krueger and hockey-masked Jason bloodbaths on HBO on a Friday night. And I must admit, it was kinda cool to see the bullies and preppies and jocks and stuck-up chicks all get their just desserts. But those films never spoke to me on any deep or meaningful level, nor do I particularly identify or relate to them now. The trouble is that every song on ‘After you’ is so closely intertwined with its corresponding horror film that it’s impossible to separate the 2. Lyrically, the songs basically track the characters, plots, story lines and motivations, and the movie sound bites are all over the place: at the beginning of songs, at the end of songs, in the middle of songs. It gets a bit distracting, actually. Horror buffs will probably disagree and find the near-seamless fusing of heavy metal and horror flicks to be stupendously awesome.

Put it all together and Prowler have given us a debut CD featuring strong songs, simple but pounding riffs and gruff attitude-laden vocals. I like it. And I tip my cap to the band for their classic horror film concept. For fans of scary movies, ‘After you’ merits a 4/5 rating. Given that my own cinematic proclivities range to the action/adventure/fantasy/sci-fi end of the spectrum, I will give the CD a 3.5/5 rating because the horror concept does not resonate much for me. But ‘After you’ is a heck of a lot of fun anyway.




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