Review Summary: Thick, heavy, swampish southern metal coming straight out of North Carolina. If you miss new material from Eyehategod and Pantera, listen to this.
For being about as far north as possible to still be considered southern, The Sign of the Southern Cross are one of the most southern bands you’ll ever hear and they’re damn proud of it. Their debut album, Of Mountains and Moonshine, is littered with southern influence. You can hear it in the lyrics, riffs, grooves, vocals, just about everything. They draw influence from multiple genres that include groove metal, sludge, blues, and dare I say it…perhaps even country. They blend them all together extremely well but they may rely a bit too much on their influences for their own good.
It’s not the most original album you’ll ever hear. It isn’t a groundbreaking masterpiece that will be praised my critics and music lovers alike. What it is, is a simply fantastic slab of groove metal. Oh and riffs, don’t forget the riffs. This album has tons of ‘em and while they might sound similar at times, you’ll find yourself headbanging and air-guitaring in no time. Everything about SOTSC’s sound is thick and heavy, from the guitar tones to the sound of the skins pounding away in the rhythm section, even the vocals.
Seth Uldricks has a voice extremely similar to Phil Anselmo of Pantera, but he can produce grunts even lower, shrieks even higher, all while maintaining a bluesy melody. Even at times on the ballads, Eating the Sun and Weeping Willow, he sounds like he’s ready to beat the *** out of you and steal your cattle. Sadly the bass is hardly audible, but I guess that’s just the price to pay for riffs and solos this good.
The lyrics are basically what you’d expect with an album as southern as this. Covering topics such as Huckleberry Finn, fathers that leave their family, and pig slaughtering, they’re very well written, albeit ridiculous at some points. A good example is this exert from Hog Callin’…
“F*ck the phylum, I’ll keep my tusks and genitals/while the castrated ones sift and devolve/but my balls leave me as easily/beguiled by guttural sounds of rustic greed”
They might be a tad over the top. But I’ll be damned if they’re not f*cking awesome.
I’ve used the word “southern” to describe this album quite a bit, but if there was another word to use, it would be “energy”. Songs like Unwelcome in That House and Hog Callin’ have energy that you can’t find in the most brutal of death metal. You just can’t sit still and listen to this at the same time, you’ll be moving around in one way or another by the time it’s 68 minutes are through. It’ll make you want to get wasted, ride a bull, take a fat chick to Famous Dave’s and bang her in the bathroom, then drive your truck home, hitting one or two small children in the process. It’s a hell of a ride, is my point.
Not only is this the ultimate backyard barbecue album, it’s just an amazing record that deserves your time. If you like that swampy heaviness that bands like Down bring to the table but want some fast paced, punch-in-the-face type metal, this is for you. It’s the best of everything the south has to offer; great riffs, blistering solos, the occasional chugging and some crazy man vocals. Let’s party!