There have been a few surprises so far this fall, and one of them is Texas In July’s new self-titled record Texas In July. Of the saturated and crowded metalcore high school lunch table, these dudes finally have a release worthy enough to validate the cross-cafeteria food fight. Equal parts ferocious and melodic, it’s quite easy to summarize this new record: it’s actually really good and can stand on its own.
Over their last two records and debut EP, TIJ have been relatively easy to follow considering their obviously developing sound. One flagship of this point is Alex Good’s vocals: they’ve slowly been getting more and more sadistic, originating with a more whiny and shriveled yell to a now-ballistic lion-esque roar. This change was much-needed and is part of the reason why their new music is such an improvement. On top of that, the impeccable musicianship from every other member is still top notch: relentless drumming with near-flawless timing combined with jarring but smooth fretwork that offers multiple layers of delicious melody in each of these 11 riots.
For the most part, you’ll be in for what you would expect: riffage sliced apart by breakdowns and beatdowns. “Cry Wolf” will immediately make your metallic heart sing, as the beginning armed-and-ready drum fill will carry you over waves of dastardly breakdowns. Good commands the song like an army heading straight into war, and that intensity carries straight into “Shallow Point” and “Without a Head,” the latter featuring a slightly unexpected guest vocalist – Chadwick Johnson of Hundredth. The contrast of their vocal styles isn’t entirely noticeable but is still effective.
“Repressed Memories” is a good song to bring up at this point, because as a soft and noodle-y instrumental it has the potential to be done wrong and fail. Rest assured, it rules. Some of the most developed melody and artistry can be dug up in this gem and it showcases their intuitive use of strange melodies and progressions. Breakdown-wise, there are some real fun and inclusive moments to be had on this record. “Bed of Nails” features my personal favorite one that comes out of nowhere and is instantly memorable, while “C4” (which features Dave Stephens of We Came As Romans) and “Paranoia” have some that are equally as satisfying.
It should also be noted that there are moments on the record where different-sounding riffage shows up, and by that I mean melodically within the guitar work. Unlike “Repressed Memories,” which is a slow track, “Crux Lust” and “Black Magic” are heavy but still utilize those stranger progressions, giving them a sense of identity among the constant aural lobotomy. Lastly I must mention closer “Cloudy Minds,” which features a completely unusual guest spot – drummer Matt Greiner of August Burns Red. Two incredibly similar bands, with two incredibly awesome drummers, have a collaborative mess-fest with their drum kits, equally in sync while driving the song to a satisfying and monstrous end. Ultimately such a bold but justified move worked in their favor, giving the song another identity of its own.
So encapsulating this latest effort: Brutal? Yes. Melodic? Yes. Addicting? Absolutely. Texas In July have rescued their image after their less than impressive effort last time around, One Reality. For now, they can sit comfortably while they continue to consistently bash in skulls under no restrictions.