I’m always on the hunt for bizarre things in the realms of Metal. I had been at the recent Sabaton/Leave’s Eyes/Battle Beast show (May 2017) and it ended quite early. I had learned through the Metal grapevine that a Simpsons-themed Metal band was playing a gig later that night at a bar down the road. I’m always up for an adventure so off I went to check out this bizarre thing.
The band is called Okilly Dokilly and it was pretty fun show. All the musicians were dressed up as the character Ned Flanders from the television program The Simpsons. It must be hot as hell to play in wool sweaters on stage! I liked the music enough to buy the indie disc at the merchandise booth and share my thoughts of it with you.
HOWDILLY DOODILLY is a 40-minute, 13-track joke. I am a fan of the television show so the gag / gimmick/ novelty idea of having a Metal band with image and lyrics patterned off the Ned Flanders character is just too good to be true. Each song title and the vast majority of the lyrics are directly lifted from quotes from Ned Flanders (or his family). There is no booklet but the lyrics are printed inside the foldout digi-pak and each song has a helpful reference from which Season and which episode the song is based on. As a fan I recognized most, but not all of the quotes/jokes. The lyrics are very minimalist, the singer, ‘Head Ned’ just essentially repeats a few phrases over and over and over. There is very little depth, they take the gag and pound it into the ground, especially on tracks like ‘They Warned Me’ and ‘Nothing At All’. Fortunately all the songs are short in the three-minute range. I was quite surprised, I was sure, before I listened to HOWDILLY DOODILLY (one of Ned Flanders favourite phrases) that there would be samples of Ned Flanders voice, but surprisingly none were to be found. I suppose the Simpsons creators (and affiliated owners and studios) are pretty protective of their show but I’m sure under fair-use laws the band could have sampled 15 second quotes in for fun effect without any major litigation.
Musically is where the project falls down. The music is a garbled mess of generic Metalcore. Constant scream-shout yelling juxtaposed with whispered whined-talked vocals are pretty grating. I must admit there is a pretty big range from kinda gothic type vocals to death growls but very little actual singing. The songs have all the hallmarks of poorly written songs, big, crunchy break-downs all over the place, virtually no harmony or melody to speak of and it doesn’t even come off as that heavy. No guitar solos! There is way too much ‘core’ and punk influence. This reminds me a lot of bands like Pyschostick, quirky, weird but fun and energetic at the same time. To make it a bit worse very often there is this shimmering sheen of video gamed styled, industrial tinged keyboards all across the albums, making it even harder for the band to take seriously. All the extra and unnecessary bleeps and blorps make it sound like you are listening to an Atari 2600 or Sega Genesis game or something. There is quite a bit of diversity, acoustic guitar introductions, spoken word parts but it still all comes across as a bit of a mess. They even dabble in a rocking, hillbilly country tune in the form of ‘Panic Room’.
I’m pretty divided on this while album. I love the idea, the concept and execution are solid, it’s fun, it’s unique and will certainly get the band some attention, no doubt. However to just sit and listen to HOWDILLY DOODILLY more than a couple of times is not all that entertaining. The music falls short and like any joke you hear, it gets less funny the more often you hear it. I’m going to split the difference, high marks in some areas, low marks in other areas leaves us with an average album. I’d recommend this for fans who like those quirky things like Hevisaurus, Powerglove and other fun metal / pop culture themed crossover acts.
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