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.
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.
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.”
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