Reviewed: May 2019
Released: 2019, Crunchy Western Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If everything is bigger in Texas, then it would stand to reason that everything is heavier in the Lone Star State, too. And though the validity of that argument may be open for debate – at least in a musical sense, relative girth is another story – it was certainly true in the case of Pantera and others, like Absu, Watchtower, Devourment or Pissing Razors. And proving true to their name, you can add Houston-based Heavy As Texas to the list.
The band certainly boasts an appropriately, umm, heavyweight lineup, with frontman Kyle Thomas (Exhorder, Trouble) and guitarist Marzi Montazeri (ex-Phil Anselmo & The Illegals and now with the once-more resurrected Exhorder) being joined for the recording of their self-titled debut by all-star drummer Anup Sastry and bassist Chris Collier. And while the album has a traditional hard rock structure and feel, it is certainly not lacking in crunch or heft, thanks to Montazeri’s assertive riffs.
In some circles, Exhorder have been credited with crafting the blueprint for the thrash-metal-meets-groove-rock sound that made Pantera chart-topping legends. And while that, again, is a matter of debate, Heavy As Texas do not shy away from turning the tables and delivering plenty of Pantera-like grooves here – though the bludgeon certainly has been tempered, as has the threatening tone that Anselmo personified.
The band, instead, favor a more direct, inviting approach built around catchy melodies and rollicking hooks – even on the careening, divebomb-solo-laden “Death Of A Prodigy.” The results can sometimes be a bit butt-rocky – a la Hellyeah or Five Finger Death Punch – as on the turgid “Reality Check,” but Heavy As Texas thankfully don’t dwell too long in that territory. “King Of Fools” mixes swagger and swing with much more alacrity, as does “It’s On.”
The seven-plus minute each doubleheader of “From This Day On” and “Love Gets Us All” offer a more sensitive touch with their earnest lyrics and acoustic/electric back and forth and might just get some Bics flicking in a live setting – even if both just skate the periphery of power balladry. But they show some depth and are a bit of a stretch from what folks are used to hearing from Thomas and Montazeri.
Hopefully it bodes well for the upcoming comeback album from Exhorder that the pair have an obvious songwriting and performing connection – enough, anyway, to produce an entirely different album first. It will be interesting to hear how that comes together in the more established – and aggressive – confines of Exhorder, especially given the lofty expectations that likely will come with it. So stay tuned.