Well howdy and welcome to the Lone Star State, y’all. If you’re into guns and Stetsons, cowboys and whisky, then you’re gonna just love Texas Hippie Coalition. THC’s frontman Big Dad Ritch has said “We want the people that love Molly Hatchet, ZZ Top, .38 Special, the Van Zandts and those bands that are growing older to know that somebody else out there is already waving the flag high”. Well, from where I’m standing they are doing a bang-up job with this new album, Peacemaker.

This classic rock meets Southern-fried swagger with heaps of riff worship is a big, bad sound that they have termed “red dirt metal” and it is sounding sweet. It’s a combination of Black Label Society’s sass, Monster Magnet’s power, Pantera’s pace and Hellyeah’s crazed edge. It’s an album built on simplicity, grunt and momentum; an album that gets exponentially craftier as time passes; an album that, save for a couple of tracks, is without flaw; an album that will inspire fierce headbanging, air drumming and shit-eating grins.

Let’s get that weak spot out of the way and get to the good stuff. “Think Of Me” is a mood-breaker; completely out of keeping with the rest of the album (THC have tacked it on at the end and I wish they hadn’t bothered). The rest is either no-frills fare like “8 Seconds” and “Sex & Drugs & Rock And Roll” or simply balls-out brilliant. Basically, if you dig the whole bad-ass cowboy shtick then be sure to hit up “Wicked”, “Outlaw” and “Hands Up” for their fat riffs and mean spirits; if you want to get your redneck on, then head straight on to “Paw Paw Hill” where Big Dad Ritch sings of “moonshine” whilst Wes Wallace digs out the bluegrass. Toothless grins all round, I believe.

Yet all these “yee-fucken-has” are a front for the songs you really need to pay attention to. Songs like “Don’t Come Lookin'” and the startlingly classy title-track are both dark and venomous rollers. The former has a hint of Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory about it (back when he was at this storytelling best) with enigmatic lines like “Left town in a stolen Corvette / That lawman, He hasn’t caught me yet” and “And when that man in blue comes askin’ questions of you / You tell him that I was dead / I had no idea there was a price on my head”. The latter tells a story of bloody violence from the point of view of the gun. Both show more lyrical guile and promise than, I doubt, even THC realise. These are serious groovers; crafty little bastards that will stick to your skull like glue.

I’m quite aware that the majority of you blood-lusting, corpse-painted metalheads will view this red dirt metal as anachronistic, generic toss, but for those of you on downtime looking for a crushing driving album, look no further than Peacemaker. Stick this on, ready your middle digits and fucken floor it. Now, go on, git outa here.

(8.5/10 John Skibeat)