Released By: Razor & Tie
Released Date: 6th November
Mark Morales – Vocals
Mike Villarreal – Drums
Jes De Hoyos – Lead Guitar
Nick Villarreal – Bass
Jon Olivares – Rhythm Guitar
01. Never Bury The Hatchet
02. Pull It And Fire
03. Baptized In The Rio Grande
04. Nothing King
05. The Vestryman
07. Breathing Through My Wounds
08. Morals Of The Helpless Kind
09. Drag The Blade
11. Texas Trim
Don’t let the name of this band fool you. If you’re expecting this to be an album of Southern rock played out in its purest form, you’ll be in for a royal shock. This is brash, thrusting rock, played with middle finger attitude. Think Pantera lightly dusted with flecks of Lynyrd Skynyrd and you have the basic idea.
To say this album opens up with a statement of intent wouldn’t be doing We Bury The Hatchet any justice. Hitting you like a size twelve hobnail boot to the face would be more fitting. Mark Morales’ demonic vocal totally dominates the track, and frankly leaves you completely worn out by the end.
The first taste of any Southern flavour comes with the title track. Featuring delicate snifters of slide guitar and a more subdued Morales. This track gives you the perfect insight into this band as a whole. Power, melody and crunching rhythms are delivered with a fearsome enthusiasm.
Nothing King is just plain and simply three minutes of pummeling aggression, and really not much else. However, the rhythm section of brothers Mike (drums) and Nick Villarreal (bass) do put in a serious shift.
The Vestryman offers a whole lot more with another subtle salute to their Southern roots. While Blamshift, with its highly addictive chorus, is probably the closest thing to commerciality with its modern metal vibe.
They probably won’t thank me for classing Breathing Through My Wounds as a power ballad. But either way they have struck gold with this gem. It’s haunting, chilling and overflowing with raw emotion. Morales once again shows strength in depth with another vocal master class. Producer Josh Wilbur (Lamb Of God, Gorgira) has worked his magic brilliantly, and has clearly brought out every modicum of talent this band possesses. This track is glaring evidence of that.
The tender moment is short lived as Morals Of The Helpless Kind takes you right out of the comfort zone with a full on metal assault. Jes De Hoyos steals the show on this one with a relentless humdinger of a guitar solo.
It was gonna take something very special to eclipse Breathing Through My Wounds, but September, also a ballad, leaves it lagging way behind. Sounding even more mainstream with its seductive hooks, it’s hard to believe your listening to the same band that opened the album. Hands down the crowning moment on the record.
If you were in any doubt of a Southern influence on this record, closing track Texas Trim should shred any of your skepticism. It may sound at the start like the guys are getting ready for a hoedown, but after a few quick notes off the banjo, the guys let rip into a south treated boogie that is also dipped in a bit of sludge rock for good measure.
A brilliant end to a brilliant album that bursting with Herculean muscle.
The South has risen again.
Written by: Brian Boyle
Ratings: Brian 9/10