Review Summary: Peacemaker delivers a hook-laden spin on groove metal while totally embracing bad-ass Texan attitude.
Originating from the Red River Valley (a stretch of land located between the borders of Northern Texas and Southern Oklahoma), Texas Hippie Coalition regard their music style as “red dirt metal,” a moniker that serves as a stark reminder of their Texan heritage and bands that have had a tremendous impact on them. As they aptly state themselves, their sound can be best described as a cross between brazen Southern rock of ZZ Top and powerhouse groove metal of formidable Pantera. Relying on these similarities, the group have successfully put out their two previous discs which, despite a complete lack of subtlety, have resonated really well with the Southern metal crowd. Peacemaker
seems to be a logical step forward that capitalizes on the established style of the band rather than alters it in any way.
Appropriately punchy guitar work is an integral part of any notable album of this genre, and Peacemaker
certainly hits the jackpot in this respect. Every track revolves around forceful guitar riffs that range from massively heavy to groove-inducing. The remarkably dynamic rhythm guitar play is enriched with potent soloing that provides the music with a somewhat flamboyant vibe resembling the work of late Dimebag Darrel. This, however, is not the sole reason why the album triumphs more than it stumbles. Texas Hippie Coalition wouldn't be the same band if it weren't for Big Dad Ritch whose staggering vocal delivery propels every single song. His immensely strong voice is ideal for Southern-tinged metal, and yet he has an uncanny knack for crafting memorable vocal lines that rarely fail to make an impression. As a result, Peacemaker
bursts with an admirably varied set of infectious choruses.
While there's no doubt that Ritch is an outstanding singer, his crude lyrics might be a breaking point for some listeners. Many of his lines are on the verge of embarrassing as well as the glamorization of outlaw lifestyle isn't, to put it mildly, everyone's cup of tea. It's obvious though that his lyrics are certainly a decent, if not a perfect fit for this type of down-to-earth, outlaw metal. They're tacky, but totally plausible covering such subjects as sudden outbursts of violence, good girls gone bad and drug dealing to name a few. However, the real downside of Peacemaker
is an overly formulaic structure of songs. Even though the album is stylistically diverse, the outfit almost always rely on the same formula of relatively quiet verses that are juxtaposed with bombastic choruses. The only tracks that avoid this pitfall are bluesy “Paw Paw Hill” and hair metal-echoing ballad “Think Of Me” which completely reverses the mood of the disc from downright ballsy to melancholic.
Together with renowned producer Bob Marlette (Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper), Texas Hippie Coalition have upped the ante as regards the instrumental performance, songwriting skills and production values. That's why, Peacemaker
is a remarkably consistent groove metal offering that easily stands out in its stale genre. It may be a polarizing record which fails to provide anything even remotely novel, yet its undeniable hooks, great ferocity and bad-ass Texan attitude compensate for the lack of originality in spades.