I didn’t know too much about the Murderdolls until this disc plunked onto my desk.  I only knew that they were a spin-off project for Joey Jordison, the drummer for Slipknot. Jordison was recently voted “best Drummer of the Last 25 Years” by the UK’s Rhythm Magazine.  It’s a well-deserved honor, as his work with Slipknot is technical, unique, and tight as hell.  But that didn’t mean I was rushing out to hear a side-project written by a drummer.

Doing a bit of research, the Murderdolls first record was touted as being a combination of “Motley Crüe and The Misfits”, and sadly that’s true.  Not a mix, or a blend, but a weird bipolar hybrid where one song sounded like generic LA hair metal, and the next track was sing-along New Jersey punk.  It seemed like the work of two entirely different songwriters, or a band with schizophrenia.  Some songs echoed The Misfits’ tuneful anarchy, and (a lot of) others sounded like typical Motley Crüe filler material. So it was an uneven listen that left this reviewer offering little more than a half-hearted shrug.  (As with their obvious influence Marilyn Manson, the only really good track on the first CD was a cover version. In this case, Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, covered in the usual Manson-ian horrorshow style.)

Fortunately, the Murderdolls second disc,“Women and Children Last”, is a hell of a lot more consistent, at least in terms of production.  It contains more than a whiff of Rob Zombie, and the Manson influences are still cluttering up the place, but it has better songs than either of those acts have managed in recent memory.  Bored ‘Til Death sounds like the bastard child of Dope’s Die MF Die and G&R’s Double Talking Jive. Drug Me To Hell is an interesting choice, since Jordison’s Slipknot bandmate Paul Gray recently died of an overdose.  Given that, it is a bit non-committal, lyrically, on the whole topic of drugs.  But let’s assume it’s an anti-drug anthem, rather than an ill-timed endorsement for chemical recreation, and move on. Nowhere, on the other hand, is awful.  No other word for it.  It’ll probably be a huge hit, but it sucks satan’s balls.  The melody and heavy-handed keyboards could be any 80’s power-metal band.  Hell, it sounds like Europe with a different vocalist. Wednesday 13’s vocals come across a bit “same-ish” over time, and tracks like Summertime Suicide provoke little more than a glance at the old wristwatch.  Thankfully, they shift gears on My Dark Place Alone, and out-pace Devildriver for pit-friendly groove-metal.  It’s actually the track on the record that veers closest to Jordison’s day-job in Slipknot.  Homicide Drive also rocks along with a pleasant vitality.  Rock N Roll is All I Got is another highlight, with the lyric “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll has (sic) been my only friend.” Maybe it’s the tequila talking, but that cliché sentiment is starting to resonate with your withered and aged correspondent.  It’s rare that a song about the mighty Power of Rock manages not to suck, but this is a fine addition to the canon of songs in praise of rock itself.  Hello, Goodbye, Die also deserves to be tracked earlier in the record.  Oh, wait, no.  The lyrics include the words “shish, boom, bah.” Really?  You couldn’t try just a tiny bit harder than that, gentlemen?  It’s that kind of lyrical laziness that separates rock classics from forgettable filler tunes.

This record is solid, if a bit generic.   At its weakest points, it sounds like Buckcherry with a splatter-movie fixation.   But it is a huge improvement over their first disc, at least in terms of defining the band’s sound.  But with that sound owing so much to the Manson/Zombie school of heavy schlock rock, one has to question the world’s need for this record.  One also questions the track-listing, as at least three of the stronger songs are buried late in the running order.  And the lyrics could clearly use some work.  But if you’re hungry for some thick groove-laden riffs and have worn out your copy of Devildriver’s “Pray for Villains” you could do worse than “Women And Children Last”.

3 (out of 5)



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