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Album Review: The Casket Creatures – Return to Wolfton

The Casket Creatures, horror punks from Atlanta, Georgia, are set to drop their 3rd full-length album this month (debuting at Days of the Dead, Charlotte, May 18th), marking some very good news for genre fans or fans of horror-themed rock in general. Founded in 2010, the Creatures have been shredding their way through songs about monsters, madmen, and mayhem for the last eight years, and, with their new album Return To Wolfton, they’re continuing to spread their brand of heavyweight horror punk to the masses. Taking its name from the planet of “zombie werewolves” that has featured in almost every release, Return To Wolfton continues to display the masterful production and tight songwriting for which The Casket Creatures are most known – and most recently displayed on their last album, Deranged.

Return To Wolfton deals largely with, as previous Casket Creature albums, themes of science-fiction and horror, freewheeling from DC Comics (“The Phantom Zone”) to 50’s drive-in fodder (“50 Ft Woman”) and Stephen King (“The Losers Club”). Within this adolescent-minded subject matter, however, one constant remains: solid production (by James Nation) melded with expert musicianship. Return To Wolfton may be The Casket Creatures’ most solid release to date, embodying their reverence for schlocky subject matter through tight lyrics, catchy hooks, and musical prowess in a metal-tinged horror punk fashion that will please fans of the band and the genre, and could easily make converts of any non-believers.

The album opens with “2027,” a spoken-word narration recalling the voiceover for countless 50’s science-fiction cheesefests, provided by Dave West of the Needless Things podcast, which segues directly into “Phantom Zone,” the lead single and a hooky barnburner that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Frontman Ryan Cadaver snarls “you can’t stop us coming/you’ll only make it worse,” and one tends to believe him. Knowing what’s in store for the rest of Return To Wolfton, one wonders who the fuck would even want to stop him in the first place. “Roswell” comes next, with the comic book style science fiction of the previous track leading naturally into the debatably real-life science fiction of Roswell, New Mexico. The guitar work by Derek Obscura and Kevin Slayfield keep the pace chugging at a manic level, adding some crunchy layers supporting Cadaver’s vocals. The song ends with drum-fueled chant of “ROSWELL” before the guitars kick back in, guaranteeing this song will end up as a singalong for live shows to come.

“Losers Club” is next, taking its title and subject matter from the heroes of Stephen King’s IT, and, with the film currently between chapters, the timing could not be any more perfect to aid the song in becoming a fan favorite. Featuring those much-loved horror-punk “WHOA-OH-OHS,” the song also features some of the Creatures’ best guitar work… maybe Pennywise’s rebuttal will be the subject of another song in the future, but, for now, “Loser’s Club” makes for a triumphant anthem for all of us geeky, horror kids.

Much of the album continues in the same fashion, with its pendulum swinging from science fiction fantasies and horror-minded subject matter. “Robot Revolution” and “No One Can Hear You” both deal with sci-fi horror, from the coming of our new robotic overlords to the doomed denizen’s of Alien’s USCSS Nostromo, while “The 13th” rips through a litany of bad luck; Cadaver name-checks black cats, curses, evil forces, cracked sidewalks, broken mirrors, and walking under ladders – basically the worst things outside of Jason Voorhees that one could encounter on Friday the 13th (surprisingly, everyone’s favorite masked mama’s boy does NOT feature in the song). Again, the song features some of Obscura and Slayfield’s best guitar work, prominently held together by Cliff Damage’s deft work on the bass.

“50 Ft Woman” is another highlight of the album, a paean to the tall, homicidal girl of any horror kid’s dreams. The track again features those wonderful WHOAs… a staple of the genre to be sure, but on Return To Wolfton, their appearance never fails to bring a smile to the face of a fiend. The song breaks down into an Elvis-inspired slow jam before returning to the Creatures’ usual breakneck speed and a hail of drums and guitar, before fading away with more of those fiend club whoas.

I would be remiss to fail to mention the passing of The Casket Creatures drummer, Tony “2 Skulls” Dinneweth, and while the drums on the album are more than serviceable, it’s unbelievably hard to deal with the passing of an amazing musician – and from the Creatures’ perspective, a brother-in-arms. “2 Skulls” is a tough-hitting tribute to a fallen comrade, and manages to be both a a wonderful, heartfelt tribute and a damn good song to boot. The song moves along at an incredible speed, and may be one of the most well-produced Casket Creatures songs yet. It’s hard to think of the shitty situation it would be for any group of friends, let alone a band gaining ground, to lose a member, but “2 Skulls” feels as fitting an honor as one could imagine.

The album ends with a skit entitled “Undead Wolflords” and a song… fuck that, an anthem, “Return To Wolfton,” continuing the story of the “Zombie Werewolves from Outerspace” that The Casket Creatures have been telling for most of their horror punk career, and they’d have been hard-pressed to have written a more fitting outro to what may very well be their most solid album. While the Creatures sing that they “must return to Wolfton,” every horror punk who listens to this album will pray that this return won’t be for good, for the horror punk scene would be a hell of a lot less fun without The Casket Creatures.

Return To Wolfton will be available on The Casket Creatures CD Baby page here, and wherever you stream digital music (Amazon, Spotify, iTunes) on May 18th. Follow The Casket Creatures on Facebook here.

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