(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist, RiffRelevant.com)
As we know, areas of Louisiana are prone to terrible flooding, like that of the 2005 natural disaster, Hurricane Katrina.
With large-scale water increases, breaking levies and what have you, Louisiana suffered massive damage, some of which they still have not recovered from. Much like that hurricane, there is a band from GOLA (Gonzales, LA.) that is the sonic embodiment of fury and destruction, Wicked River Rising.
Back near the end of January, the quintet – Shannon Guillot (Vocals), Tony Busby (Guitars), Lance Strickland (Guitars), Tristan Micheal (Bass), and Josh Kilpstein (Drums) – unleashed the deluge of southern heavy metal / thrash that is their “Hell & High Water” album.
With abundant helpings of metallic swagger ala shredding guitars, rapid-fire drumming and attitude-laden aggro vocals, Wicked River Rising have the ability to achieve wide-range appeal with the masses. Their sound is rooted in the great southern style ass-kick of acts like Pantera, Exhorder, Anti-Mortem or Texas Hippie Coalition.
The over-the-top riffs that propel these songs, ones like “The Reaping“, “Reborn” or the scathing album-closing “Defiance” (my fave), are straight from the Dimebag Darrel or Vinnie La Bella school of savagery. They slice like razors, ripping and tearing away at your flesh.
The vocals are also quite reminiscent of Exhorder’s Kyle Thomas at times, and in my book that is a damn wonderful thing. That said, there are glimpses where those vocals become the focal point of the song, such as the fiercely flowing “Once More (Into The Fray)” and the spectacular “Forever Gone“.
The latter, “Forever Gone“, is a slower paced dive into the undeniable depths of doomier songwriting. It is one of the album’s better stand-out numbers for showing WRR’s diverse skills as musicians. Not to mention, there are several brief, melodic intros to some of these tracks, like “The Reaping (Intro)“, “The Procession” and “Invoke Prayer“, that provide nice breathers.
So, if southern-fried, guitar-driven metal is your thing then you will absolutely love Wicked River Rising and their “Hell & High Water” album. If you are especially into Pantera and Exhorder then yes, you will probably go ape over this album, as well. That is all good, because as I said, we have been needing some intense, ass-kicking metal like this for awhile now.