‘Baptized In The Rio Grande’, the 2015 debut album from Sons Of Texas, was the aural equivalent of a punch to the solar plexus. Wearing their Pantera badges firmly on their collective sleeves, the five piece from McAllen, Texas produced a fine slice of modern day groove metal that was (and still is) thin on the ground. Everyone was so busy trying to emulate Alter Bridge or Black Stone Cherry that the sheer ferocity of groove metal was overlooked. Thankfully, album number two, ‘Forged By Fortitude’, is pretty much a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, then yadda yadda yadda’. The groove is ridiculous, and it’s impossible not to bang thine head during ‘Buy In To Sell Out’. It’s also impossible not to think of Phil Anselmo as Sons Of Texas frontman Mark Morales spits out the lyrics with heaps of attitude. Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes the riffs from lead guitarist Jes De Hoyos. Paired with rhythm guitarist Jon Olivares, the duo certainly pack a punch. ‘Feed The Need’ belongs to the engine room team of the Villarreal brothers. Nick brings some chunky slabs of bass to the party, while Mike pounds the skins. Again, the neck muscles get a decent workout. After the power metal leanings of ‘Down In The Trenches’, the band slow the pace down a tad on ‘Cast In Stone’. A bit of a Stone Sour vibe on this one, with a strong vocal performance from Morales, handling the softer moments with ease.
‘Beneath The Riverbed’ is a slow, sludgy monster that will give the pit a chance to breath. The guitar licks are clean enough for commercial radio, and in places, the song does echo Nickelback, which, considering the Dimebag/Nickelback connection is not as bizarre as it may sound. If they were good enough for Dimebag, then that should really be the end of the matter. Conscious or not, ‘Expedition To Perdition’ has a punk thread running through it; the machine gun vocal intro, the simple guitar chords, the general snottiness – punk. ‘Turnin’ The Page’ is as close to a power ballad as Sons Of Texas get. It’s big and easy to sing along to. Job done, fellas. ‘Jaded Eyes’ is the opposite, not even remotely ballad-like, as the band ramp it up. ‘Wasp Woman’ is a great example of a band mixing it up. Not content with merely inducing some head banging action, the band throw in some funky Black Sabbath ‘Planet Caravan’ moments. Totally unexpected, but totally effective. The title track is another crunching moment of Pantera-inspired groove metal that gets better with each listen. Pantera for a new decade. The influence of another little ol’ band from Texas closes off the album with ‘Slam With The Lights On’. ZZ Top boogie mixed with metal riffs and throaty growls from Morales. A perfect tip of the hat to Texas and the perfect way to end the album.
Available now, Sons Of Texas are on tour with Seether throughout Europe at the minute, all dates can be found here.
Review: Dave Stott