Ride On is the fourth release from Texas Hippie Coalition or THC. Unsurprisingly, the band originate from Denison, Texas. However, somewhat surprisingly, their sound is not just the sound of another Southern rock band but a myriad of different influences and styles.
Ride On is a solid release, featuring the powerful voice of “Big Dad Ritch”, who really dominates with the tracks. The album has a huge drum sound, very much in the Hell Yeah style of Vinnie Paul, although this sound is attributed to drummer Timmy Braun. The steady guitar work of Cord Pool combines with John Exall’s bass to provide a multitude of classic riffs. Monster In Me has elements of Down, Rob Zombie and Marilyn Mason whilst Rock Ain't Dead has all the hallmarks of Soil at their peak. However, there are many other influences which appear as the album progresses; Go Pro is almost a replica of Wanted Dead Or Alive by Bon Jovi with a much heavier edge, combined with the harder side of Molly Hatchet. Rubbins Racin has a splash of Shinedown, a dash of Godsmack and the drive of Down whilst the title track has one of the dirtiest Southern style riffs you’ll hear this year. This is decent, honest, American heavy metal delivered with quality and a vocal style from BDR which merges the grit of Anselmo with the balls of Ryan McCombs. Album closer I Am The End provides yet another reference point with some sludgy Alice in Chains guitar work and BDR’s finest vocals on the whole album. Decent stuff and well worth a listen. 7/10
Schysma: Idiosyncrasy (Revalve Records)
Blasting out of Italy comes Schysma who have arrived in my inbox with an album of 10 progressive metal tracks, with technical guitars, a heavy bottom end and rich tapestry of keys fleshing out the sound. The band are kind of an industrial/electronic prog metal band if you want to be picky as their classic metal instrumentation accompanied by some pulsing synths from Martina Bellini, much like darker Amaranthe or a more electronic Breed 77, the band fuse the two genres together well and their obvious talent shows through. The one point I would raise though are the vocals of Riccardo Minicucci who has a distinctive voice but many may find it not to their tastes, however a lot of this could be due to the less than great production. Personally I think his Paul Isola-like holler/rasp fits with the music the band behind him are producing and it shines on Heremetic which moves between the fast and slow dynamic brilliantly with some great drum work from Luca Solina. The rest of the band are no slouches either mind Giorgio Di Paola works with Solina provide a locked in rhythm section on all the tracks but they are especially effective on the heavier tracks like Pendulum he also shines himself on the bass intro and led Supreme Solution. Guitarist Vladimiro Sala provides some superb guitar work with his Eastern guitars on Migdal, the bluesy rock vibe of Need A Chance and his searing virtuoso solos throughout but most especially Time Man which sounds like it could have come from an 80's speed metal album and works well as the storming album closer. With slightly better production values this album would have be able to show off the myriad of genres better. Still that aside the album is a progressive trip through multiple facets of metal music all brought together by some fantastic musicians, if you like your music unique but familiar and played with style then Idiosyncrasy will be for you. 7/10
Tarturis: Life Lessons That Only Death Can Teach (Self Released) [Review By Paul]
Kansas outfit Tarturis are a two person project who combine elements of progressive, symphonic, thrash and melodic metal with interesting yet slightly disappointing results. Delivered in advancing year segments, Life Lessons... is a concept album with a building story from birth to death, with whispered narrative providing a haunting atmosphere to many of the tracks. Steve Hall and Craig House contribute all parts of the album, with both delivering vocals, guitars, bass and drum programming. Starting with Year 0: Exchanging Flesh For Iron, Tarturis deliver a pretty devastating opener which sounds like a hybrid of Dream Theater and Wintersun, galloping fretwork slowed by more melodic keyboard parts. Year 5: Before Life Even Began is a much calmer track before some of the most out of tune singing I've head in a long time emerges in the middle. This is a lengthy track, clocking in at over ten minutes and I have to be honest, it gets a little lost. Year 13: Placebo Salvation begins with a keyboard and drum build up over the Lord’s Prayer before driving headlong into symphonic thrash once more. The brakes are then briefly applied before all hell breaks loose with a charging onslaught, ferocious drum sounds combining with slicing guitar work and layered keyboards and much more aggressive vocals more at home to Testament than some of the other bands referred to here. Another ten minute plus song follows; Year 17: Fall Of The Iron Kingdom, which has some deliciously delicate acoustic guitar work before a more traditional metal ballad type sound leads into more progressive, symphonic style music with string elements all making an appearance. Year 22: Her continues the sedate pace with acoustic build up and atmospheric vocals reminiscent of Katatonia and Pain of Salvation amongst others. However, it is really pedestrian and to be honest just a little too far on the left of depressive melancholy for me, especially with the vocals struggling to stay in tone at places. Year 24: The Atlas Punishment opens at a blistering pace, blast beats combining with some heavy thrashing guitars but by this stage I've lost a little too much interest. So what is the problem? I think it is the fact that this album is really disjointed and difficult to follow. Sure, the musicianship is pretty good, and these guys can clearly play but the way the moods change mid-track too often, combining far too many elements of too many genres is just a little too overwhelming. In fact, the length of the album also contributes to the loss of interest, a mighty 75 minutes in total, and by the end, it’s just a little staid and boring. 5/10