REVIEW: Two – Voyeurs (1998)

Part 4 in a miniseries on Rob Halford’s solo career!  Missed the last part?  Click here for Fight – A Small Deadly Space.

TWO – Voyeurs (1998 Nothing)

Fight was kaput.  Rob had a new band, a photo of whom appeared in Metal Edge magazine.  The band was called Halford, and although that would change, Rob used his surname for another band later on.  I remember a weird looking blonde dude wearing a silver skin tight suit of some kind (more on him later), and I thought, “Well, OK then.  This is going to be different.”  Soon after the Metal Edge photo, the name had changed from Halford, to Two.

I had a buddy, Nathan, who was really into Nine Inch Nails.  This Halford project was on his radar as well, due to Rob’s collaboration with Trent Reznor.  At the time, Rob Halford insisted that the resulting album, an industrial/rock hybrid, was the sound he was going for all along when he quit Priest in ’92 and formed Fight.

I don’t believe that, but they did come close on the Mutations EP. I think Fight was exactly what he wanted to do at that time. When the second Fight album fizzled I think Rob questioned his musical direction, hooked up with Trent, and did this experimental record.

Two (stylized as 2wo) were experimental by Halford’s standards, but not by industrial music standards in general. Voyeurs has all the expected bells and whistles, including but not limited to:  distorted vocals, the word “pig” in a song title, thumpy bass, ticky-ticky sounds, bloops, bleeps, and other stuff that sounds like broken machinery.

What does make this album special is that the band was “Two”, not “One”…meaning there is a second guy involved here, and what a talent he was. That guy was guitar player John 5. This was his breakthrough release. After this he hooked up with David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, et al. John 5’s involvement means there is some wicked guitar work here, including “I Am A Pig” which features a solo that sounds like a mashup of Morello and Satriani.

Highlight songs include “I Am A Pig” (Reznor sure loves his pig imagery), “Stutter Kiss”, “Hey Sha La La”, “Water’s Leaking”, and the epic closer “Bed of Rust”.  “Bed of Rust” could have made a pretty cool Fight track.  I would say in fact that there are no throwaway songs here.  All of them have something worthwhile to offer.  Just don’t think too much about the lyrics.  Halford’s delivery is understated and, at times, whispery. No screams. At Reznor’s suggestion,  instead Rob explored other aspects of his voice.

Other notable names:  Bob Marlette plays bass and produces.  Dave “Rave” Ogilvie does some production work.  Trent Reznor “executive produced”.  I always wondered what that means.  I picture it meaning that Trent gives the project either a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” when the real work is done.

JOAQIN

Of course many Priest fans didn’t get it, although a chunk of the Reznor fans (who at the time would buy anything on Nothing records) accepted and enjoyed the album for what it is.  I think if this was a release by a more popular band, like say Nine Inch Nails or KMFDM, it could have spawned two or three singles.

Japan had a bonus track called “In My Head” which is absolutely impossible to find, so good luck. I’ve never heard it.

3.5/5 stars

Postscript:

It was during this period, promoting the Two album, that Rob Halford came out.  People joked for a good number of years that Rob’s sexuality was the worst kept secret in rock.  That can’t negate the courage that it took for Rob to come out in a musical genre that isn’t always kind to anyone who’s “different” (hello, Blabbermouth!).

“I think it’s difficult for everybody, you know, in making the decision to come forward and be who you are, based on peer pressure, especially if you’re a teenager,” Halford said. “That’s where a lot of the anxiety begins, and so maybe people like myself and others that do step in front of a camera and let the world know, maybe it’s of some help, where there’s an individual that’s been successful, that’s been able to achieve dreams and visions and goals in life and not let the issue of sexuality be something to hold them back, so I think it’s an important thing.”

More:

LGTBICONS:  Rob Halford – Angel of Retribution

MTV News – Rob Halford Discusses Sexuality Publicly For The First Time

20 comments

  1. Gotta respect the fact Mike that u followed Halford right thru even after he left Priest!
    I can’t say the same as I did not buy any Priest/Halford from his dismissal/leaving after Painkiller to his return with Angel Of Retribution…..
    Good early am read chap!

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    1. Well Deke, not to spoil things TOO much, but I think the next few albums after this might be more up your alley. Stay tuned for those. I wouldn’t lie to ya…there are some good solo records coming.

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  2. Never bought this one. Judging by the posted video I didn’t miss out on much. It’s not awful but it’s just not the kind of stuff I enjoy. Kudos to Halford for trying something new though (for him anyway). I did think his voice was great on that tune you posted.

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    1. It’s not my usual ballpark either. Some of it is a little more “pop” than that, but I Am A Pig sums up the heavy side of the record. Might be the heaviest song.

      T-Rev used to say, “You wouldn’t have bought that if it didn’t have something to do with Judas Priest,” and he’s right.

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        1. That might be so, but I think, in my experience, many industrial fans at the time were interested in metal bands that crossed over. A lot of time their favourite mixers would do something by a metal band. The aforementioned Nathan for example was always hunting for a rare Megadeth single that had a Trent Reznor remix on it. Tori Amos had Trent on one of her songs, so that was on his radar.

          Of course I can only speak of the people that I knew, but my image of it is that they had their tentacles in it based on Trent, just like I had it because of Rob.

          As a result, Two appealed to the fringes of two genres, and even the two fringes couldn’t sustain Two.

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        2. My enthusiasm for Reznor wore off a long time ago. Downward Spiral is a brilliant record, I consider it akin to progressive rock. But that was the last one I cared about. I bought most of the others but I don’t play them. Not even the one with Dave Grohl.

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        3. Never bought any of his stuff. I may have heard the odd song I liked but I can’t remember! There was a few Ministry tracks I thought were ok but that’s about it for me and industrial music!

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        4. Downward Spiral had Tommy Lee involved in some manner. I wouldn’t say “Go and buy this,” but it was my first step into that world and I like the album more now than I did then.

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  3. My problem was I was stuck on Halfords Priest material esp from Unleashed thru to Defenders….that was hard era to repeat in any kind of success ,commercially and in some cases creatively ….

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    1. Gotcha. Yes it’s true that most of the music post-Defenders has a distinctly modern sound. One of the few that didn’t was Revolution from Angel of Retribution. I liked that it has a sort of retro 70’s Priest sound.

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  4. Good on them for trying something new. I love it when bands change direction and then say it was their intent all along (I’m looking at you and your haircuts and flannel, Jon Bon Jovi). Also, the 2wo reminds me of 7even. Must’ve been something about the 90s… As for the coming out thing, I always paraphrase Rollins when he said it’s a curb 2″ high, and if you can’t step over it, the weakness is with you not those different than you. It really is a non-issue. Good for him for finally being honest about it.

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  5. I “discovered” John 5’s solo stuff about a year ago and play it a lot. I had no idea of the existence of 2wo or his connection to Halford. Not being much of an industrial fan, I’m not sure I’m game for this one but it’s definitely worth a listen. Thanks for the educatin’…

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      1. Ashamed to admit I have not. I’ve got three of his solo discs and really like them but hadn’t delved into his prior life beyond being vaguely aware of his Marilyn Manson stint. It was a song on a Classic Rock magazine sampler that led me to John 5, but I now realize I just blindly dove in without checking the pool depth. Looks like I need to swim a bit deeper.

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        1. I really liked John 5 with DLR. Good combo. He modernized DLR while still being a shredder. A few years ago I saw him with Zombie and that was great of course.

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  6. This is nice fair minded review. Personally i felt the NIN comparison was a little overstated. Two were far poppier and their sound was closer to a Filter than an NIN.

    There were two major problems with Two in my view: 1)Their image suggested something far darker than their actual music, which probably caused a bit of confusion; and 2)The album sounds like a mish mash of styles without really settling on any actual style. This makes for an interesting listen but not necessarily a cohesive one.

    There was also the problem of how to market a 46 year old bald man to a youth oriented MTV audience, but that’s another story.

    ‘Voyeurs’ was quite a good record and like ‘A Small Deadly Space’ was underrated by Halford fans.

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    1. John I really appreciate your thoughtful comment!

      A Small Deadly Space is the one that I still have not quite wrapped my head around. I think it is that kind of album: if you “click” with it, it really has a lot of long term appeal. If you don’t, it’s a struggle. I just have not clicked with A Small Deadly Space. Having said that I’m always willing to try again given a little time!

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