SONS OF TEXAS – Forged By Fortitude (Album Review)

So, I was minding my own business and trying to be creative with Decibel Geek Facebook posts, when The Meister messaged me, asking whether I would be interested in reviewing a band, sending me a cryptic URL which brought up SOT – Forged album.  OK, I said, why not?

I started playing the album and the first track “Buy In To Sell Out” grabbed me by the throat like some rabid Doberman – I thought the album was gonna be Metalcore or Death Metal, but the first track is so deceiving!

After I had listened to a few more tracks, I found out that these were recorded by Sons Of Texas (SOT),  of whom I had definitely heard.  The whole album then opened up to me, with diversity, style, power and goddamn panache!

SOT is an American metal band who formed in 2013 in McAllen, Texas (a surprise, obviously).  Their first album, Baptized In The Rio Grande was released in 2015 on the renowned Razor & Tie label.   The members are Mark Morales on vocals, Mike Villarreal on drums, Nick “Rat” Villarreal on bass, Jon Olivarez on rhythm guitar and Jes De Hoyos on lead guitar.  Together, these guys smoke!

After the shock of the opener, “Feed The Need” sets a different tempo.  It starts with bass acrobatics, a scream from Morales and grinding guitars with a groove like a mix between Pantera and Korn.  I love this song, with its cool chorus and power.  The drumming of Villarreal is sublime and the basslines weave around with a great tone, driving the chugging menace with heartfelt substance.

Next up, “Down In The Trenches” ups the pace, driven on again by the audio mugging of Villarreal on drums.  There is something more with this song, a underlying smell of Southern rock like ZZ Top.  Believe me, there is not an overt sound of the ‘Top, just a feel, which is hard to explain.

My favorite pick is on next song, “Cast In Stone”, which kicks off with female soul voices and then drives into a tune that owes a lot to prime StaindMorales owns this song with a power and prescence akin to a preacher drawing in his congregation.  The Southern tinges hit this song big time.  There is also a really cool bass/guitar breakdown and a tone in the guitars like Korn.  The huge chorus dominates, along with some virtuoso lead playing from De Hoyos.

The single “Beneath The Riverbed” hugs its Southern roots with a fervor not seen outside of a Skynnrd concert.  Morales excells once again and the chorus is killer.  The song reminds me of a few of the songs on the excellent Badlands debut – high praise indeed.

Expedition To Perdition” actually references Bush-era (John, not George W) Anthrax in its aggression.

Turnin’ the Page” harks back to more traditional rock, with its acoustic section and more laid back touch.  I hear a bit of Creed in this one also, but not in any bad way. I also smell some Pearl Jam in the way Morales sings this – he is possibly the new Eddie Vedder!  I love the touches of Gospel in the backing singing and a tasty solo tops off a cool tune.

Jaded Eyes” is taut, lean and has a fantastic melody (I hear some Pearl Jam again).

Wasp Woman” and the title track pass by quickly, but are both cool tunes.

However, “Slam With The Lights On” embraces the Blues and Van Halen.  It is another standout tune, which has Morales channel David Lee Roth – such a fun ending!

OK, SOT blew my socks off with an epic album and this is one which I suspect may well feature in my Top Ten of 2017.

Buy: Forged By Fortitude

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