Monday, December 2, 2013

Train to Dallas/Ft Worth - The Texas Heavy Scene, featuring FTW, Cosmic Trigger and Orthodox Fuzz

It seems that every month or so I write about another Texan band.  What can I say?  It's something in the water, or the air, or the heat . . . something that makes that state rock so hard.   Houston, Corpus Christi, San Anotonio.  Seems there's no shortage of bands to create a massive heavy rock scene wherever you are in the biggest state of the Continental US.

But today's column is about Dallas/Ft. Worth.  All about the DFW scene.  We'd touched on how healthy the scene is in the past, and reviewed bands like Wo Fat and Vorvon.  Heck, we've even signed Dallas rockers Mothership to our own label.  But, in truth, we've barely scratched the surface of that fertile ground.

So let's dig a little deeper.


First saw these guys at the inaugural Metroplex Heavyfest and they didn't fail to impress.   But to be honest, amongst that Howitzer Cannon blast of metal bombarding my eardrums over that two day weekend, I can't say I fully got what they were about.  But now, kicking back with their 4 song self-titled EP, I can really bury myself in their vicious doom metal. Mean as a hungry desert cat, FTW aren't content to pummel with plodding, trudging doom riffs.  Aggression drills into each song with spirited riffing, a Texan-sized foundation of drums and bass, and hornet-frenzied solos.  Sean Vargas tears into each song with a ferocious abandon, letting his vocals growl out in the menace of doom or soar effortlessly into the air raid screams of true metal fashion.   Definitely one of the more dynamic frontmen I know of in doom.  Rock solid all the way around.

Musically, they aren't afraid to mix it up either.  From the retro-seventies stoner riffing that brings in the killer cut, "The Witch", the chugging demented-monster boogie of "Roadburn", the ravaging thunderclap that is "Release the Tide" or the blitzkrieg psychedelic heaviness that is "The Knight Rider", FTW mix it up like a cuisinart of metal, tearing through their influences like a ravenous beast.  No two songs sound the same, yet all ring loud and clear as FTW.   Lot's of rock in their doom and lots of metal in their rock.  They got it all. 

A damn fine EP, and one definitely worth exploring.  It's time to spread the word on these guys, so get on board before you're left behind.

Cosmic Trigger - The New Order of the Cosmos

For a built-in-the-day NWOBHM junkie like me, Cosmic Trigger may just be one of the coolest weapons to fire a salvo across the barren desert plains in ages.  Equal parts NWOBHM twin harmony guitar assault force and stonerfied riff-mad infantry with a special forces unit of classic metal and space rock, Cosmic Trigger are one deadly unit.  Twice I've been in the audience, and twice I've failed to catch their live set because one thing or another pulled me away.  That's a misstep I promise to rectify.  "The New Order of the Cosmos" is a searing slab of heaviness that's not afraid to revere it's influences while simultaneously taking those influences and twisting the hell outta them to create something unlike any other band I know.

"Pulling the Trigger" sets the lethal tone immediately, with it's gently building twin-guitar intro, swirling into the more spacey atmospherics implied by their name.  But about a minute in, that cosmic journey turns vicious, as the thunderous riff of doom crashes down, trailing off into a NWOBHM-inspired harmony guitar meteroic trail.  Yes, it's only an introduction --and most of times I hate introductions since they seem filled with pretense.  But not here. It truly sets the stage for the ferocious twin-riffing that follows with "Brother of the Sun."  Chugging and firing on all cylinders, "Brother" is a masterpiece of revved up classic metal, like Riot leading a ground assault of Thin Lizzy and Dio-era Sabbath.  It's all familiar yet totally fresh.  Simply one helluva rocker.  And those twin guitars!

And Cosmic Trigger isn't one trick pony.  Over the course of "New Order of the Cosmos", CT gets doomier "A Welcomed Rapture", progier "Slave", stonier "Tunnels Pt. 1:Brainchanger" and spacier "Tunnels Pt 2: Scouts of Sirius."  And it's all done perfectly with killer musicianship and composition.  Definitely a band to watch from the DFW scene.  Cosmic Trigger are one deadly force.

Orthodox Fuzz - Ritual Volume

They're a staple in the DFW scene.  A band that every body coming through wants to have open their show.  A band that's a part of every festival or big night out in Deep Ellum.

Because Orthodox Fuzz always bring the goods.

This is meat-and-potoatoes, Clutch-inspired, desert-stoner tested, simply killer heavy rock and roll.  Orthodox Fuzz don't waste any time with pleasantries.  With "Village of the Widows" they lay right into the vicious riffing like a stampede of Texan Longhorns finally freed from the corral.  Kicking up a trail of flying desert dust, the twin guitars of Brian Harshaw and Joey Grice tear into the doomy riffs while Dale Williamson and Jeff "Beam"Jones hold the fort with rock-solid precision.   It's a fine introduction to the band's intention of laying waste to anything in it's path. 

But for my money, if you really want to know what the Fuzz is about, you simply can't do any better than "Masquerade."   To say this song grooves is as big an understatement as declaring the flight of Apollo 11 a "nice little trip."   This song is the very definition of heavy rock grooviness with it's jazzy bass intro roaring into that incredible descending riff.  Andrew Kimbrell really gets a chance to shine here, his vocals reaching out and grabbing the song as his own, through the subtly of the verses to addictive chorus.  Live, this song decimated the Metroplex Heavyfest audience, nearly snapping necks in head banging glory.  And none of that power is lost on Ritual Volume.  Simply a standout cut from a killer band.

"Smoke" brings in a gutsier, near-ZZ Top flavored Texan-vibe to the riff-fest, while "Southern Witch" sludges through the darkest swamp in the Sabbath marsh. 

A true staple of the DFW scene, Ritual Volume is a great 4-song snapshot of what the Fuzz is all about, and a hint as to what lays ahead.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sean is now in hint of death. Featuring members of speed dealer and Saint
Vitus check them out. Also he's going to be singing in blood of the sun.

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