I often get the opportunity to review young and upcoming bands that bring a refreshingly new sound to the music business. Anti-Mortem is one of those bands. Their debut album via Nuclear Blast Records, New Southern, brings a very different sound to the hard rock and metal scene. Anti-Mortem sounds like Seether met Black Stone Cherry and then partied hard with Metallica during Master of Puppets. In simple terms, take that twanging country guitar, crash it into some hard rock guitar riffs and then coat it with the rage of a thousand angry men with beards: this is Anti-Mortem.
New Southern pounds your skull open with the opening track “Words of Wisdom”. You are greeted by chugging guitar riffs and crashing drums upon the opening. The band takes you down an aggressive path of self-realisation as the ’80s-inspired heavy metal vocals of Larado Romo spew lyrics about realising there are no real words of wisdom. Some sick guitar solos are thrown down courtesy of Nevada Romo and Zain Smith.
The title track “New Southern” has a melodic introduction before launching into a throwback to all the great heavy metal bands of the ’80s. The track is quite melodic and showcases a less aggressive side of Romo’s vocals, really letting the two guitarists have a bit of fun. This so-called peace is shattered by the aptly named “100% American Rage”. This track breaks through like a cannonball smashing through an infantry line, barraging you with pent-up rage and aggression as the band lets out all the anger issues they have pertaining to America. It is a stark contrast to “New Southern” and demonstrates how the band can be both melodic and also utterly pissed off. “Hate Automatic” continues in a similar vein of showcasing how easily they can create a melodic song and still lace with pent-up aggression.
“Black Heartbeat” is a more melodic track, taking on a more hard rock nature than previous tracks. It sounds a lot like a mixture between Seether and Black Stone Cherry. It is a sort of blues-infused hard rock sound characterised by chugging guitar riffs and soaring vocals that have a hint of gruffness to them. “I Get Along With the Devil” launches straight back into that aggressive southern-styled heavy metal sound. “Path to Pain” is a no-holds barred heavy metal song as Anti-Mortem chugs their way through the track and brings an audio assault to your ears.
The rest of the album continues in a similar vein: southern-infused heavy metal while maintaining a very melodic sound to it. Tracks like “Wake Up” and “Ride of Your Life” sound like songs you’d hear blaring out of a sport team’s locker room just before a major match starts. They’re perfect songs to get psyched up to. “Stagnant Water” sees a heavy country influence to the vocal styles as Romo executes them in a similar way to how a country singer would, except these are a lot more aggressive and could potentially incite violence if taken too seriously. “Truck Stop Blues” continues with the country influence and incorporates a very bluesy guitar sound. It also progresses from melodic to total breakdown while maintaining the blues sound in the background. “Jonesboro” mashes together the country influences, the hard rock influences and the heavy metal influences into one final song that sums up everything that Anti-Mortem is.
That being said, Anti-Mortem is a refreshing entry into the rock community. They have a unique sound that is probably going to get them far. You cannot help but mosh and sing along to each of the tracks present on New Southern. They have hooks in all the right places while maintaining an absolutely brutal sound.