The Kings of Red Dirt Metal have returned with their fourth LP, simply titled ‘Ride On’. Since hitting the public consciousness in 2008, Texas Hippie Coalition (aka THC) has had a myriad of lineup changes in the guitarist and drummer positions. So many, in fact, it is damn near Spinal Tap-ish!
Co-founders, bassist John Exall and vocalist Big Dad Ritch (aka BDR) have weathered the storm to produce their most solid effort to date, ‘Ride On’. Joining them are drummer Timmy Braun, who should achieve “THC Veteran” status as this is his second consecutive album with THC, and 22 year old guitar wiz Cord Pool who should be given the MVP (Most Valuable Person) award for his contributions both musically and in the songwriting department to ‘Ride On.’ He is clearly the ying that has been missing on the previous three albums to BDR’s yang.
‘El Diablo Rojo’ opens with BDR’s grizzly bear growl and diabolic laugh atop a fat riff & heavy footed bass drum. This track is one fat groove accented by a tooth rattling rhythm section & BDR’s anthemic autobiographical lyrics. ‘Splinter’ gets going with another heavy groove highlighted by some subtle pinch harmonics by Cord. It picks up the pace in the choruses. Really digg the short yet sweet solo. ‘The Monster In Me’ starts off with some down South front porch swampiness before kicking in the front door. BDR’s toned down gives way to a full-on roar from the verse to chorus. The rhythm section shines here, driving the song through multiple vocal moods.
‘Go Pro’ should be heard in many sports venues before too long. Who knows, maybe THC can land a song licensing deal from the camera maker to allow the tune to be used in X-Treme sporting events. It is an anthem in every way that I can see athletes and sports teams adopting as their theme. Paging Mr. Gene $immon$, paging Mr. Gene $immon$…..take note, ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’, it’s just breathing. This is by far the heaviest track of the album with melody intact. Kicking off with a marching drum line vibe before bursting into some riffage that took me back to the first Black Label Society album. Clever name dropping either in-gratitude or sarcastically. The time has come to bring out the Kleenex for ‘Bottom Of The Bottle’ as we get to hear BDR’s soft side in the verses before he unleashes in the choruses. Yet another masterful solo from that young grasshoppa, Mr. Cord Pool.
‘Rubbins Racin’ is a slammed into 5th gear rocker. Relentless on the throttle. The bass and bass drum should rattle a few fillings loose when cranked to 11! The title track, ‘Ride On’, backs off the gas just a little but provides a nice road-trip soundtrack nonetheless. If you are driving while jammin’ these last two songs, make sure you have your cruise control set before they come on as to avoid a run-in with Da Fuzz!
‘Fire In The Hole’ keeps up the pace of the previous two songs but relies on it bottom-heavy groove to supply the heaviness. I digg BDR’s gravely growl in the opening verses before letting his vocal cords loose on some gut-wrenching screams. Cord rips rhythmic riffs atop John and Timmy’s rock solid groove. ‘I Am The End’ brings the listener to the end. BDR pours his heart out lyrically and vocally before proclaiming “Thank The Lord above, I’ve got my Rock N’ Roll!!!” Telling a story most can relate to, lost love. Sonically, THC takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride of emotion with various tempo changes. A nice way to end the album.
In closing, ‘Ride On’ is a big step forward for THC in regards to the quality of songwriting and musicianship. Gone is the two guitar attack and in its place is the phenomenal Cord Pool. A fantastic songwriter and picker beyond his 22 years. While you can hear his influences in places, he has his own style and isn’t trying to be a clone of anyone else. That is something that has hampered THC in the past, almost to the point of making the band a joke. Thankfully, those days are gone & may they never return. Hopefully, Cord is here to stay. The songwriting tandem of BDR & Cord is a potent combination.
Finally, I cannot rave about the rhythm section if bassist John Exall and drummer Timmy Braun enough. The production, mix and mastering are the perfect compliment to the songwriting, music and vocals contained on this disc. Everything is in the right place & everyone shines bright. Often times in hard rock and/or heavy metal, the rhythm section gets buried in the mix only to be brought up for certain bass lines or drum fills then buried again. Not on ‘Ride On’, this album has an even balance that gives BDR & Cord a rock solid foundation to build upon. This will definitely make my top three Metal albums of 2014 list! All killer….no filler!
01. El Diablo Rojo
03. The Monster In Me
04. Go Pro
05. Rock Ain’t Dead
06 Bottom Of The Bottle
07. Rubbins Racin
08. Ride On
09. Fire In The Hole
10. I Am The End
Texas Hippie Coalition – Monster In Me (Lyric Video)
Texas Hippie Coalition Official Website – http://www.thcofficial.com/
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