Apr 2018 30

Missy Hell - GrotesqueMissy Hell
Category: Post-punk / Alt. rock
Album: Grotesque
Blurb: Hardly a trifle, but not the most essential of albums, the debut from Michelle Walters’ solo outlet is a down and dirty display of damn good songwriting sure to please fans of old-school post-punk.


Sometimes acerbic, sometimes angelic, always acidic is the voice of Michelle Walters, gracing the likes of Voodou, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, and Pigface with her inimitable style. Now, with assistance from fellow musical misfit Steven Seibold, she strikes with her own solo outlet, Missy Hell. Grotesque presents the listener with a decidedly gritty and raw style of rock that does away with the industrial and electronic bells and whistles one might expect based on her past output, opting for a more straightforward post-punk sound akin to the likes of Killing Joke, The Cult, and Peter Murphy.

The resonant guitar leads of “Hero Within,” “Vails,” and “In Violent Dreams” drill subtly but sharply with a sound that mirrors that of Geordie Walker, the bristling rhythms and Walters’ own melodic snarl seething and howling like the best moments we’ve heard from Siouxsie and the Banshees. The songs on Grotesque bite hard, sinking their sonic claws into the listener with insistent hooks that despite one’s best efforts demand repeated listening; all the while, Walters sings with a balance of restraint and abandon. For instance, she’s in full on rocker mode on “White Room” as she wails in the chorus amid strident drum and bass rhythms and layers of acoustic strums and pensive electric arpeggios, while the steely and shrill guitars of “Dead End” evoke a Gary Numan-esque vibe upon which Walters insinuates herself into the listeners’ psyches with light but formidable harmonies too catchy to dismiss. Oh, did I mention The Cult earlier? Because lo and behold, Missy Hell even tackles “She Sells Sanctuary,” with the tempo sped up for a more punk, almost swampy vibe, the crystalline psychedelic effects of the original muted in favor of a dirty melodic bass and a bellowing, almost muddy guitar, while Walters clearly revels in the song’s energy; one could imagine her jumping around like a spastic teenager in the studio during the recording. “Mutiny Habit” is one of the album’s more notable tracks, not just for the addition of fellow Pigface alumni Meg Lee Chin, but also for its grim ambience by way of creeping tribal percussion, a primal howling hook, and slightly atonal guitars that give a darkly ethnic feel.

Grotesque is anything other than what such a title suggests; for all its stripped down and raw production qualities, the songs are presented in a straightforward manner that are easy to assimilate and, dare I say, even dance along to. It’s not an essential record by any stretch, bearing more the likeness of a project for Michelle Waters to keep the creative juices flowing and stretch the songwriting sinew. Beyond that, it’s just a damn enjoyable record for fans of the old-school post-punk school of early goth and alternative rock.
Track list:

  1. Grotesque
  2. Dead Ned
  3. Hero Within
  4. Mutiny Habit (feat. Meg Lee Chin)
  5. In Violent Dreams
  6. White Room
  7. She Sells Sanctuary
  8. Vails

Missy Hell
Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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