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Tombstone Highway - Ruralizer

Tombstone Highway
by Drago at 07 March 2013, 3:37 PM

Side projects in Metal have become commonplace. It is normal for musicians to be in various different projects. It keeps the energy and creative outlets consistently flowing. On many occasions the side project sounds exactly like the main band, and the listener is left wondering what was the point. Italy’s TOMBSTONE HIGHWAY prepares to unload their debut record “Ruralizer” through Poland’s Agonia Records and they are far removed from their primary project.

Fronted by singer and guitar player H.M. Outlaw, TOMBSTONE HIGHWAY is the side project of the blackened Doom Metal band FORGOTTEN TOMB. Props to Outlaw for the creative use of the word Tomb to connect his two key projects. Where Forgotten Tomb utilizes harsh vocals and is very cold sounding, TOMBSTONE HIGHWAY’s sound lies in the classic blend of southern Stoner Rock and Doom Metal. It is great to see a completely different direction employed here by Outlaw, as the bands really are dissimilar.

The starting point for the inspiration behind “Ruralizer” would be a Pepper Keenan fronted CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and Zakk Wylde projects PRIDE AND GLORY and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. Throw in a dash of ZZ TOP and LYNYRD SKYNYRD and we have the makings of a Southern Rock / Doom Metal melting pot.

Kicking off the record is the banjo inspired “Old Blood”. Reminiscent of PRIDE AND GLORY’s “Losing My Mind”, pinch harmonics envelop this mid paced groover that will have you banging your head to the thick sludgy riffs. An inspired lead section rips your head off before we are introduced to a banjo breakdown, and it works perfectly.

The title track “Ruralizer” sounds like it would fit perfectly on a Wylde fronted Ozzy Osbourne solo record. After a slide guitar intro the riff is reminiscent of Osbourne’s “My Jekyll Doesn’t Hide” blended with a variation of one of SABBATH’s legendary “Iron Man” riffs. A memorable chorus and some slick lead guitar-playing showcase one of the best tracks on the record.

The SKYNYRD and ZZ TOP inspired “Bite the Dust (And Bleed) is pure Rock perfection. An up-tempo slide guitar riff backdrops the catchiest and coolest vocal melodies on “Ruralizer.” Vocally we are in 1970s ZZ TOP territory and one can’t help but think of their classic “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” as an inspiration during the verses. The chorus is simple but incredibly effective as it will do everything it can to permanently invade your thought patterns.

A useless cover of MOUNTAIN’s “Mississippi Queen” is serviceable but shouldn’t be included. With only eight originals they could have used the time for another self-penned song, as their own material is excellent. Songs “Graveyard Blues” and “At the Bitter End” both exceed seven and nine minutes respectively. Despite some excellent moments both songs tend to get a little repetitive and could have been edited down.

Hats off to H.M. Outlaw as he has crafted one hell of a debut record and did an amazing job of making an album that is a world apart from his primary band. “Ruralizer” should put TOMBSTONE HIGHWAY on the underground map as it is chock full of head banging thick riffs, guitar solos that are jaw dropping and most importantly, unforgettable songwriting.

4 Star Rating

1. Old Blood
2. Acid Overlord
3. Graveyard Blues
4. Hellfire Rodeo
5. Ruralizer
6. Bite the Dust (And Bleed)
7. At the Bitter End
8. Mississippi Queen
9. Hangman’s Friend
H.M. Outlaw –Vocals, Guitars, Banjo
Simone Feroci – Bass
Emilio “S.O.B.” Sobacchi – Drums
Daniele Zoncheddu - Guitars
Record Label: Agonia Records


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