Ruralizer is one of those unexpected gems which come out of nowhere awareness wise, to thrill and invigorate the emotions and ear. Unleashed by Italian band Tombstone Highway, the album is an immensely satisfying encounter of stoner rock, blues, and southern rock all soaked in the sinews of doom metal. Refreshing in its imaginative use of existing formulas within the above genres all captivatingly transformed into something distinct to the band, the Agonia Records released album leaves an insatiable appetite for much more from and strong passion for Tombstone Highway.
The band comprises of duo H.M Outlaw (vocals, guitars, banjo) and Emilio Sobacchi (drums), and has its beginnings back in 1999 with the pair inspired by the likes of Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, traditional Root Blues, and Bluegrass emerging as Leaf Season Death. Employing the heavy shadows of low-tuned guitars and bass to their ideas, the band failed to take off through the lack finding additional members to create their invention. The duo moved into other bands soon after but then 2006 saw them join up again and begin writing new material, with bassist Mike B. of Viscera brought in to the line-up. Debut EP Padus River Graveyard Blues followed the next year and received strong responses to its limited release. Another hiatus for the band followed with Mike B. leaving but in 2011 the Piacenza pair united again to write and record their first album, the mighty creation Ruralizer.
The album combines the heaviness of a Corrosion of Conformity and Down to the southern fires of Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top before immerses them in the heavy metal power of Black Sabbath. It is an inspirational result which is soaked in the rural and folklore essences of its homeland to further ignite the flames of all its other fires of sound. Outlaw and Sobacchi also brought in additional musicians in the shape of Mario Percudani (HungryHeart), one of the very best rock guitarists in Italy, guitarist Razor SK (Forgotten Tomb), and Paolo Apollo Negri whose Hammond keys bring another flavoursome persuasion to the album.
Opening track Old Blood is a sensational invitation to the album, the weighty lure of the riffs and basslines veined by irresistible banjo teases to immediate intrigue and please. The track strolls through the ear with purpose and a sure hunger which with ease demands eager attention whilst leaving a depth of pleasure which is immeasurable. The guitars carved a place in the passions with skill and enterprise whilst the rhythms without unleashing their full venom cage it all with craft and intensity.
From the startling beginning the album piles on the thrills with firstly Acid Overlord, a track with grooves as addictively sour and sharp as you could wish within its snarling insatiable presence, the sweltering Graveyard Blues which has whispers of Soundgarden within its Orange Goblin coated furnace, and the outstanding Hellfire Rodeo. The last of the trio is a virulently infectious romp with riffs and sonic taunting causing an epidemic of ardour within the emotions. As in all songs vocally Outlaw has a dust coated growl which ignites the whisky fumes of the music into another hot wind of satisfying enterprise, the union of all aspects within the band and songwriting forging something new and inspiring within a familiar context.
The title track employs that irrepressible banjo sound again within more searing sonic mastery, its swagger and muscular gait an imposing yet deeply stimulating instigator to feet and passions. Up to this point every track ignites the fullest hunger for their contents and the same can be said for Bite The Dust (and bleed) and At The Bitter End though both despite their quality and energy fail to quite match up to what came before. The two songs do not quite find that something to step forward into their own unique spotlight but nevertheless cannot be offered any real negatives.
Completed by a strong and inviting cover of the Mountain track Mississippi Queen and the excellent closing inventive maul of the ear Hangman’s Friend, Tombstone Highway has brought the world an album which is rock at its most rousing and bracing. If references mentioned above work for you than Old Bones is a real awaiting treat.
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