That Texas Fire
Some might say you need cold Icelandic winters to create good heavy metal. Others say you need the damp rainy skies of the pacific-northwest. Those are both true statements – but what often can get overlooked is the hot humid skies of Texas. It’s brutal heat and humidity can be as oppressive as any Icelandic winter or the wettest forests of Washington. It is in this “hot as hell” environment that we find Venomous Maximus and their newest album Firewalker.
Firewalker, the band’s fourth release and second full length, pulls you right in with the fierce riffing. Christian Larson and Trevi Biles put on a flat-out clinic on this album and especially on the album’s opener “White Rose” and “Through The Black.” Both songs have the best riffs of the year – so far – and have a groove that will have you head banging immediately. The other thing you learn right away as the album starts to spin is that these guys have something a lot of other bands now don’t have. Songs. These guys are fully aware that simply playing fast and screaming doesn’t mean you have written something memorable.
For example, “October 14th,” delivered vocally by Greg Higgins, could easily be on any Mastodon record and is almost as catchy as a Cars song. Ok, thats a bit of a reach, but you can tell they want to have head banging and singing along. Even if it is to a guitar riff. In metal, good songwriting – a key element on Firewalker – is often times the thing that gets overlooked. Guys want to just show off and may forget that what made those earlier metal bands so good was how great the songs were. Thank god Venomous Maximus remembered.
“Fire in the Night,” the album’s second to last song, is probably the slowest on the album but it gives the songwriting a chance to shine. Higgins and his ‘full of despair’ delivery is all over this song and it’s awesome. His delivery is already something that is missing in modern day metal. Not screaming as if his life depended on it but rather groaning like it’s already gone. Perfect.
Overall it’s a barn-burner. An album that’s chock full of must-hears and instant classics. One thing is for sure – Texas didn’t just deliver George Bush, or really good BBQ. It has given us Pantera, The Sword and now Venomous Maximus. Listeners will want to be right there, baking in the heat, slugging down some ribs and listening to one of the better metal records of the year. Who needs an Icelandic winter?