For the handful of you out there who may be unfamiliar, Doyle got his start as the guitarist for the Misfits almost 40 years ago. Where many punk artists from that era are finding comfort in new sounds (some for better, some for worse), Doyle has been charging on with a surprising amount of consistency since day one, be it on later Misfits releases, other projects with Danzig post-Misfits, or solo. If it’s got Doyle’s name attached to it, it’s almost guaranteed to evoke something rather nasty in your mind.
On “Doyle II: As We Die,” Doyle teams up with Alex Story, the insanely talented frontman/possible wolfman of Cancerslug, for the second time since 2013’s crushing “Abominator.” If you’ve listened to that album, you can expect more of the same from “As We Die”; insanely heavy instrumentals and Alex trading clean vocals and screams with such an ease, you’d believe he was blessed with two sets of vocal cords.
The album opens up with a slow stomp with “Kiss Me as We Die,” and you immediately know something not-so-kind is lurking around the corner of the song. Fifty-four seconds later, Alex opens his mouth, and your sense of dread is justified. You’re not meant to feel safe here. If, for some reason, you have found yourself a little confused over how you should feel, “Beast Like Me” comes crashing through the door. The first words you hear happen to be, “Don’t look my way, there’s a wolf in my blood/If you see him coming, you’d better run.” If there is a single line that could encapsulate the feeling of this album, this is it. Hell, “Virgin Sacrifice” is the only breath of air you’re going to get, and even that’s a few short gasps before they’re pounding on your ear drums again.
For anyone looking for a sing-along out of this album, the closest you’re going to get is the single “Run for Your Life.” In relation to the rest of the album, this is the song that sounds like it was written more for the sake of giving the album an accessible track to grab more listeners. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this particular song sticks out in the same way “Wait and Bleed” does on the first Slipknot album: a little more tame than the rest of the music included on the album, a little more “familiar” sounding, but still melding itself in with the rest of the music without issue.
Overall, this album sits nicely next to Michael Graves-era Misfits stylistically. “We Belong Dead” further proves that point when the chorus hits. This song plays more like an “American Nightmare” B-side than it does as a song that was chosen to be a part of the official track list of the album. You‘ll hear no complaints from me on this; I first got into punk rock directly through the Misfits. However, if you are in the demographic of people who are more likely to follow Doyle for his past rather than for his current music, depending on which of these songs you start with, you may or may not be likely to stick around for the entirety of the album.
Doyle isn’t re-inventing the wheel with this album. What I will (gladly) tell you is that “As We Die” does exactly what it aims to do, and it does so with great effect. You play it, you go to the show, you push each other around for a while, then you go to Denny’s after the show, covered in sweat, and talk about how your ears keep ringing. You’re not complaining. You’re happy because, that night, you got to see Doyle do what he does best, and that’s tearing the roof off any venue he visits.