Glance at the band logo for this fledgling Brazilian band and there’s every chance you’ll assume they’re called Southern and you might expect something along the lines of Black Stone Cherry. A closer look and that stray and somewhat mysterious L appears, but there’s no soul on offer here either. As you can probably guess from the band photo on the sleeve – a design that conjours up memories of 7”s with DIY wraparound artwork – we’re in very retro metal territory with this demo quality release. In fact, ‘Rock You Till Die’ [sic] is so unashamedly old school metal with a capital M, you might even think these three guys had been in a coma since 1984.
A quick burst of ‘Midnight Wild’ and a powerful riff that echoes Judas Priest circa 1981 and ‘Electric Circus’ era W.A.S.P. is set to slap you in the face. Yes, indeed, trashy is the watchword, as they power through four minutes of old fashioned heavy metal with a slightly camp edge. The low budget recording rarely brings out the best, but even so it’s more than possible to tell that guitarist Flavio Cavilha [also handling vocals, more of which shortly] really shreds and drummer Enrico Andriolli is more than capable of attacking his kit with the kind of enthusiasm present on your average Diamond Head and Angelwitch LPs. Even more surprising, given the lack of budget, bassist Lucas Foxx brings a beefy sound. The strongest melody comes via a multi-tracked guitar, and while the repetitive chorus is kind of dumb, but it suits the general low budget Judas Priest-eque rock that ensues. Echoes of all kinds of NWOBHM influences colour the overall sound – not always a bad thing – and the band have a great energy. There’s one major sticking point, however: Flavio’s voice is shrill and hard to listen to. On the one hand, he’s giving it his best shot since there’s plenty of volume but, on the other, there’s no real control and even less of a decent melody.
Switching gears for more of a shredfest, ‘Rock The Night Till I Die’ offers two funny cliches for the price of one and with the quickening of pace, Soulthern make their love for Priest ever more obvious: the riff could have come straight off the ‘Defenders of the Faith’ LP and the huge string bending solo – melodic at first, then totally shreddy and eventually running out of steam at an unexpected point – sounds like KK Downing warming up. The real strength in this piece comes from Andriolli, whose drumming is spot on for the style, but not quite impressive enough to distract from the hugely cheesy chorus. Last up, ‘Runaway’ begins with a direct lift of the intro of Priest’s ‘Hell Bent For Leather’ before tackling something that’s clearly modelled on ‘Ram It Down’. A bridge section, meanwhile, employs the stops from the Motorhead classic ‘Ace of Spades’, but sharper-eared listeners will also spot a stolen vocal melody from yet another Judas Priest number – the classic ‘Rapid Fire’. So, the main elements of the music are hugely derivative, but as before, the feeling that these guys love what they do comes across very well. Whether most of the listening audience will love it anywhere near as much remains to be seen; on this track, the vocals manage to be worse than ever – Flavio, rather unfortunately, sounds like someone pretending to be an old fashioned heavy metal screamer for a laugh.
On the surface, this EP isn’t something you’d spin more than once out of curiosity and Soulthern are just one of a million metal bands playing in garages and rehearsal spaces across the globe. On the basis of this, they’re not necessarily going to get that big break, but then again, maybe they’re just doing this out of sheer passion and for kicks. Still, looking beyond the demo quality recording, each of the riffs is well arranged (they should be too – if you’re gonna steal, steal from the best!) and the resultant material will absolutely reek of nostalgia for those who sported denim and leather in 1985. The hooks, although rather simplistic, suit the general style, while a couple of direct lifts from their metal god heroes should more than raises a smile. If they’re just in it for the thrill of playing, then it’s all been a reasonable success. Now, if only they could do something about that vocalist…