You know the saying “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” right? Sons Of Texas’ debut album Baptized in the Rio Grande intends to confirm that statement because these Texans are determined to write bigger and better southern metal tunes than their peers. After one listen to Baptized in the Rio Grande, it’s clear – Sons Of Texas are poised to make skeptical listeners into passionate followers of their whisky-soaked, melodic southern metal.
Bursting out of the gates is opener “Never Bury the Hatchet”. As one of the record’s heaviest cuts, “Never Bury the Hatchet” rips and roars with reckless abandon. Lead singer Mark Morales trades a gruff mid-range growl with high shrieking that stretches over winding guitar riffs and machine gun double bass blasts. Keeping momentum going is the caustic “Nothing King” and the chaotic “Morals of the Helpless Kind”, which feature stomping verses and high-octane choruses meant to be played at max volume. Mark Morales’s deep, worn voice shines throughout these tracks, and across the album as a whole, as he cuts through the mayhem with a spirit that can be aptly described as wounded, yet drenched in piss and vinegar.
Sons Of Texas aren’t only interested in screaming in your face, however, as the band explores a softer, more sensitive side on the poignant, album highlight “Breathing Through My Wounds”, the somber and soulful “September”, and the undeniably catchy title track “Baptized in the Rio Grande”. These softer tunes add another dimension to Sons Of Texas’ songwriting, which upgrades Baptized in the Rio Grande from being a cookie cutter, strain-your-neck straight shooter of a record to a release with more depth and substance than listeners are likely to find within the genre.
Not everything is a perfect, rockin’ hell of a time, however. For example, when these southern metal heads decide to explore southern anatomy on “Texas Trim”, things go, well, south. It’s often expected that a southern metal record has a subtle sexual undercurrent to it, but Sons Of Texas’ decision to conclude the album with their most lighthearted song seems amateurish at best. Maybe it is personal preference, but concluding the record with a slower, more emotional song such as the aforementioned “Breathing Through My Wounds” would have felt more comfortable sequencing-wise and surely would have left a long-lasting impression on listeners.
In summation, Sons Of Texas combine filthy southern metal grooves with a modern rock flair that is dangerously infectious. Although Baptized in the Rio Grande has a couple blemishes, for a debut record, Sons Of Texas have delivered an album capable of going toe-to-toe with any upcoming southern metal album this year. After numerous listens to Baptized in the Rio Grande, it’s clear – everything is bigger in Texas – even southern metal!
Ladies and gentlemen, take a listen. Sons Of Texas, take a bow.
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
Run Time: ??:??
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Check out the song “Baptized in the Rio Grande”