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I Want to Drink Myself To Death, Steve. That's What I Want To Do Today - 20%

Drewlecoix, June 16th, 2021

There's this band that for some reason has never entirely left my mind. They sounded like a diet buttrock Pantera in all but... actually no they were just a diet buttrock Pantera. They made a song called "Pissed Off and Mad About It" (P.O.M.A.I for future reference) which although musically goofy and lyrically inane, still managed to have a shred of "jumpdafuckup" swagger to it. It wasn't quite scraping the bottom of the barrel, but it was definitely NOT the best southern metal out there.

Out of morbid curiosity I looked to see if this particular band was still around. To my surprise, I found that not only are they still active, but they were consistently making albums to a relatively wide audience every few years, including this 2019 release. I naturally wanted to hear how they possibly evolved from the style I heard before from that single off of their debut, and... it's not like I expected anything great given that context but hey, morbid curiosity as I said before, so I played this album first and foremost for an update.

Good GOD this is terrible. This is ASS. The production on "High in the Saddle" somehow sounds flatter and uneven between the instruments at the same time. The riffs here make "P.O.M.A.I" sound like a really good rocker with how generic and formulaic to the genre they are (which is saying something since "P.O.M.A.I" is on its own quite generic) and the performances overall just reek of "meh", as if the band didn't even want to do this album in the first place and rushed it out to stay on eOne after arranging the deal to release the album through said label.

I listened to the band's prior album "Dark Side of Black" pausing midway through this one, trying to figure out if this low bar of quality was possibly a constant throughout their later years, and to my simultaneous surprise and dismay, "Dark Side of Black" sounds legitmately good. All the aforementioned problems here are non-existent there. What happened?

The only hopeful moment on this album is in the first song, in the introduction. Production and mixing aside, the instrumental actually is a banger for the first 22 seconds. It's not as immediately energizing as the opener on "D.S.B" but it's still a decent riff. Then things go downhill when the vocalist "Big Dad Ritch" starts singing. I'm not going to knock the dude for how his voice naturally sounds because that would be unfair to him and I actually DO like his voice. He is one of the very very few half-positives I heard on this album, yet his performance is much like the others by the rest of the members: unenthusiastic. This guy can bellow out low notes and sounds good-to-great doing it, but the material he has to work with is so uninspired and cliché-ridden that I honestly believe he had no real options but to just play it safe on this album and not over-do anything. And on the topic of material, we'll start with the lyrics.

This band have never been very good lyricists, looking through their prior work, but to their credit they wrote at least competent words before, to varying degrees. Whatever thrice-cursed this album has also affected the lyrics, however, as not only are they bland, generic moonshine and Jim Beam-worship coupled with the occasional tough-guy song or "Awoooooga this woman is HOT" song, but they're the kind of bland that isn't able to really be ignored. There's even some moments where Big Dad Ritch bellows lyrics that honestly sound like they come from a teenager trying to copy Eminem's vocabulary yet sounding even more vain and cringey. The aesthetic of this band is still very much present, but it makes me want to drink heavily for entirely different reasons than the band would want.

Production-wise we hear the drums being as loud and bombastic as they possibly can without clipping, and the guitars trying vainly to reach the same level in the mix. Big Dad Ritch is audible and clear but I feel like listing that as a positive would negate my entire paragraph before this. The bass is also quite loud, which leads me to think that all of this in combination is made as a sort of "background album" that you don't actually listen to, but are supposed to blast over speakers or in a truck at a tailgate party. The riffs support this notion, often being of a generic, run-of-the-mill blues-oriented swagger that barely hit the mark for "not sucking" despite being on this album. The ultimate thing dragging all of the songs down is the lack of energy, however. Music in this subgenre tends to be about partying, so why isn't this jovial? Why do the songs sound less like you're supposed to have a good time and more like music for being played in a retail hunting store?

I've written way too much about this album for how bland, lackluster and straight up BAD it is. If there's one final "positive" I could ever give it, it's that I know the band can do better, because they have before. I want to blame anyone other than the band themselves for how this album turned out, since I don't truly know any details behind the recording of "High In The Saddle", but ultimately the faults for how the performances sound and how the lyrics are written will have to go to the band on this one. I can forgive them for the bad mixing, but mixing only enhances the base sound, and you can only polish a turd so much, so to speak.

I really hope that Texas Hippie Coalition manages to re-capture the actual spark on a future release, because this is NOT it, hoss.