White Collar Sideshow – The Witchunt

By Lee Brown on September-24-2012 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : , , , | Share

White Collar Sideshow – The Witchunt
Score: 3/5Score: 3/5Score: 3/5Score: 3/5Score: 3/53
4.7 (10 votes)

Artist: White Collar Sideshow
Album: The Witchunt
Label: Come and Live Records
Release Date: Sept. 4, 2012
Reviewer: Lee Brown

Tracklisting:

  1. The Innocent Heart
  2. American Lies
  3. Watch Your Thoughts
  4. Go Eat Worms
  5. Windows to the Soul
  6. Monster Me
  7. Something Unholy
  8. This is a Kill
  9. Counting Sheep
  10. Moonshine
  11. Dead Man Walking
  12. Black Heart Hearse
  13. Belly of the Beast
  14. Try the Swine
  15. Alive
  16. Light Up the Dead

According to Come and Live’s artist page, T. D. Benton’s White Collar Sideshow, “began as a series of dreams from the mind of an addict.” It was from this life of addiction and recovery that Benton took to the road with a band of “gypsies” and began to spread a message of restoration and hope. And that’s immediately where White Collar Sideshow breaks from the pack of “normal everyday” musicians. More than being a musical act, WCS is a traveling ministry set to the tune of a Big Top experience with a little vaudeville mixed in. To complete this picture, the imagery, soundscapes, and even the band’s personas are warped around a carnival like performance.

So, what you’re getting is much more than mere music. It’s like a Celebrate Recovery meeting held at a circus. Now, you may think I mean that negatively, rest assured, I do not. It’s this carnival-rock sound and atmosphere that make WCS not only different, but unique. That said, it’s hard to judge or score an album that is much more than an album, but a life-expression. However, as a reviewer, it is my job to provide a critical reflection on the music itself. And for all the reasons listed above, that’s a tricky proposal.

First of all, it’s important to note that The Witchunt was produced by Chris Baseford. This is notable because his list of credits include guys like Rob Zombie and Tommy Lee. This also helps to explain why when listening to this album I felt like I was peering into a window that held the 1990’s version of me. The version of me who had not yet decided that the content of what I listened to was MUCH more important to my soul than the beats and riffs. This was the me who listened intently to Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, and KoRn, and even flirted with buying a White Zombie CD on a youth mission trip with my church.

I say that because, in trying to get a fix on just what genre I was listening to, the first album that came to mind was NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine, which was followed closely by Marilyn Manson’s earlier work. It then brought to mind a few bands I listened to after deciding Christ would be the primary filter of what I let influence my soul, such as (and most notably) Rackets and Drapes, These 5 Down, and Wyrick. Of all of these, the closest connection seemed to be Rackets and Drapes, as it shares the “carnival-rock” sound and themes. Of course, WCS certainly meets the Christ filter, but does it cut it as a musical experience?

The Witchunt follows after many of the stylings and rhythms of the above mentioned bands, but with a decade or two of perspective thrown into the mix. This leads to both the biggest ministerial strength of the album, and the very reason it falls just a little short musically. On the strength side, where most heavy bands today seem to rely on a screamer/grunter to ensure the “heaviness” of their sound, WCS refreshingly brings back the industrial (quasi-)goth rock of the 90’s. Rather than double-bass pedals, the listener is met with cow-bells, industrial synth clanking, and what sounds like trash cans being drummed on. Considering I still see youth wearing NIN and Manson shirts today, this brings a greater appeal to reach into the lives of a youth culture enamored with now aging rockers, as well as those of us who look back with a strange mix of nostalgia and ire for that period of our lives.

On the negative side, however, I didn’t feel that The Witchunt was the same calibre as these bands, with a couple songs standing out as notable exceptions. Because the album is heavily focused on the performance aspect (in fact my C&L copy that this review is based on only came with the even numbered tracks. When asked, it was stated that the odd tracks were performance pieces meant primarily for the live experience), the listener simply does not get the whole experience with just the songs themselves. While this likely leads to a great live show, it leaves something missing in playing through the album.

In terms of the songs, expect grungy and dark tones set against a message of hope. The strongest track, in my opinion, is the closing song “Light up the Dead.” Musically, this song has all the right tones and timbres down and has a very heavy, yet very catchy hook.

Working backwards, “Try the Swine,” “Black Heart Hearse,” and “Moonshine” fit the Pretty Hate Machine mold very well. Especially “Try the Swine.” The messages bring dark and harrowing aspects of life to the glorious light of hope. As with the overall sound of the album, expect industrial quasi-goth rock given a 20 year polish.

“This is a Kill,” “Monster Me,” and “Go Eat Worms” bring a more personal reflection. Of the remainder of the album, “Monster Me” comes across as the strongest track. Fans of Neon Horse will find some of that Halloween inspired flavor mixed in. Finally, the opening track “American Lies” does a great job of setting the overall tone the listener will find throughout The Witchunt.

Overall: The Witchunt is not your everyday fare. It is eclectic, raw, impassioned, and a little disturbed. But that’s exactly what the band is going for. White Collar Sideshow’s new-industrial-carnival-rock sound is certainly not for everyone. But for those who can identify with being down in the ditch, strung-out, and unsure of where to go, this album may just be the ministry they need in their lives. Musically, the album falls a little short, however, with only a couple standout tracks. To get the full experience, I’m told, you really have to see the experience live.

RIYL: Wyrick, Rackets and Drapes, These 5 Down, Neon Horse

White Collar Sideshow - The Witchunt, 4.7 out of 5 based on 10 ratings

Click here to list all the current reviews by Lee Brown

About the author Lee Brown

Lee Brown is Discipleship Pastor at Meadow Park Church in Columbus, OH. He is the author of "Here's How: An Introduction to Practical Discipleship," and is also an adjunct professor and content specialist for Mid-America Christian University. Most importantly, he is a loving husband and father. Lee loves jamming to bands like Blindside, Project 86, Demon Hunter, Spoken, Lecrae, and Lil' Dre. For more about Lee, be sure to visit www.KnightoftheSon.com. View all posts by Lee Brown

17 Responses to 'White Collar Sideshow – The Witchunt'

  1. JahWarriah says:

    Great review. It seems as if the two of us have almost the exact same tastes. Though I probably would’ve given this a 3.5, I definitely agree with the strong tracks and the weak ones as well.

  2. earthseedz says:

    How can IVM publish a review, when the reviewer only heard 1/2 the album? As someone who purchased the complete CD/DVD, I felt your rating was too low. WCS do the industrial-drum & bass sound well, think AP2, Klank, The Awakening. They are brillant performance artists, and the film shorts accompanying the CD are incredible!! I would give the complete package a 4.0.

    • Iaya97 says:

      The online version only gives even numbered songs.

    • Kurtis says:

      hey 97′ i don’t think you get the point. Yes the online version only list even numbered tracks, we know that. The statement implys that only reviewing the come and live free version does not give justice to a band that put a TON of work into a cd/DVD artistic release! A full and complete review would be better! Although WCS is not my cup of tea, I bought the full package and agree 110 percent with Earthseedz.

    • Iaya97 says:

      Well, probably, yeah, but C&L! obviously want this version to be the one to reach the most ears. In that case, it is a good idea to review it. Plus, there is still a good chance that Lee Brown was not sent a copy by C&L! and instead just downloaded the version from their website in order to do this review. If C&L! did send him a copy, then it is obvious they wanted him to review only the songs they had for download.

  3. RayW says:

    The odd tracks might only be for live but they do add a lot to the album as a whole. And the dvd is great, you really need to see it to get the full album.

  4. earthseedz says:

    Iaya97, I disagree. If IVM chooses to “publicly” review and rate an album, it should be the complete work. If the reviewer can’t get the full CD, then the review should not be published. Also, this is a concept album so the missing tracks aren’t trivial. There are hundreds of albums that IVM cannot/willnot review this year. Maybe, this should have been one of them. Would you publish a book review based on reading a few chapters?

  5. MrM says:

    If the website is only offering the even numbered tracks and considering it a CD, I think it’s fair to review it, as long as the reviewer makes note of that (I wouldn’t have listed the odd numbered songs in the tracklisting at the top, personally). And if he had heard the whole CD, he may have rated it higher. However, it looks like you can get the whole thing off iTunes (at least Canadian iTunes, for me) so if anyone’s interested, they can get it there?

    Also, I think songs ought to be able to stand by themselves. For example, Oh, Sleeper puts out concept albums, and while all the songs together work with one another to create a bigger and greater creation, you can click on any one song and enjoy it as it is. I see the book comparison differently, where a book=a song. A chapter may have difficulty standing on its own, and a 30 second clip of a song may have the same difficulty, but the whole book, and the whole song can work. And taking that one step further, a Cd would equal a series of books, where the whole thing adds up to make a bigger creation. However, that being said, Kurtis and earthseedz are correct in saying the whole package that the band put a lot of work into should be reviewed, rather than the less than half complete version C&L! is offering. Not trying to shut anyone down, just trying to show merit to both sides

    Personally, I can’t get into the band at all, but think the idea of industrial-creepy-circus/carnival/sideshow is pretty cool, and if they’re getting a good fanbase from it all, well congrats!

  6. earthseedz says:

    MrM, I can see where you are coming from. But, the ratings system isn’t for any one song, but the whole album, and it carries a lot of weight. I just bought The Chariot’s latest release, solely based on the strength of the reviews, here and elsewhere. The album blew me away. I wouldn’t have spent my money if the reviewers had only listened to 1/2 the album.

    • JoshIVM says:

      We reviewed what was provided to us. I even asked why the tracks were missing & was told we could just review what was there. You should email the label if you are concerned about that process.

    • Lee Brown says:

      What Josh said. I would prefer the whole album too. It would certainly impact the overall score, I’m sure. But C&L (a great ministry) chose to only offer up the even numbered tracks. The best way I could state it to make it fair was to acknowledge this and move on.

  7. Kurtis says:

    Why is neon horse listed under riyl? I don’t hear any similarities, am I misunderstood?

  8. TD Benton says:

    Greetings friends, 
    Just wanted to clear up a few things… 
    C&L! isn’t a record label, it is a group of mission minded musicians trying to impact the world with art. The music, we gave away for free as a gift, and as incentive to try and get peeps who love, or are interested in what we do, to purchase the entire project. The odd tracks are a very important piece to the puzzle, musically and live. We spent our entire life savings into this, with no backing from a label and no kickstarter. We used our finances and a few friends who gave, that believe in this as well. You can purchase every track through iTunes, or buy a complete physical copy through our site (whitecollarsideshow.com), that includes the movie, which took about 13 months to film. Thank you for taking the time to review this, and thanks for listening to our music, mind and heart! 
    Cordially,
    T.D.

  9. joshtara says:

    I absolutely love this album!! I used to be a big fan of NIN and Revolting C***s and have been missing that sound since I got rid of all my secular music. It’s not exactly the same but it fills the void nicely. I would agree Light Up The Dead is the highlight of the album followed by Moonshine. Good stuff, I’d love to see them live.

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