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Drink To the Poor Damned Souls

Review by Mike Korn

Southview is a band from my home area of Northern Illinois that I've been a fan of for quite a while now. The first time I saw these guys, I knew they were of a quality higher than the local bar bands that play the circuit. Their sound is earthy and centered on metal basics and not trendy in the least. These guys didn't start up to get free drinks (well, I don't imagine they ever turned those down) or a Myspace page. With Drink to the Poor Damned Souls, they put forward a very credible self-promoted release that should certainly get them interest. Their sound is fairly unique, which is also a plus. There's a Southern grittiness and bluesy swagger to a lot of the material which brings Black Label Society and Corrosion of Conformity to mind. There’s lots of groove and flow. At the same time, there's a lot of intricate twin guitar harmony work that calls to mind Thin Lizzy and even Iron Maiden, bringing an epic feel to the music that moves it beyond just bluesy hard rock. Add in dashes of thrashy aggression and you have something which could really appeal to a lot of metal fans. There's still some polishing that needs to be done and I don't think they've gotten anywhere near their peak yet. But Drink to the Poor Damned Souls is an effort the band can be proud of. Here's hoping we get a lot more "Horns, Beer and Metal" from these guys in the years to come!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Stab The King
This first cut has that more epic power metal feel in spades. The guitar work of Rob Willis and Rob Zilm is pretty intricate and aggressive and there's a killer double solo. Zilm's vocals can best be described as soulful. I feel they could use a little more "roughness" but that's a minor complaint. This tune is a fine introduction to the more metallic side of Southview.
Hog Train
I really dig the restrained riff that kicks this off. The song has a very ominous feeling to it and drummer Mike Jerding's lyrics are cryptic but threatening. One thing I didn't like that much were the back-up vocals behind Zilm, which don't really strike the right note. The guitar solo here is really bluesy and "classic rock" influenced.
The Quickening
This brief instrumental has a strong 70's feel to it and the lead guitar kind of reminds me of Kirk Hammett or even something from old Thin Lizzy. Melody is never too far away, even in the band's heaviest moments.
One of the hardest hitting and fastest cuts on the LP, this wastes no time and gets right to the business of banging your head. The chorus is extremely strong: "Not a single soul is safe / It's the whore that cuts me/ Marks me perfect/ As the legend grows, it will make a mother reckless". I'm not sure what any of that means, but at least the band sounds like they mean it!
A strong drumbeat provides the foundation of this surging and crunching cut. Hash's throbbing bass also adds a lot of oomph and this emerges as one of the heaviest tunes on the disc. God knows what the lyrics are about here, but it sure sounds unwholesome.
The Highway
Now here is where the blues/Southern rock influences of the band show their full hand. The swaggering slower riff on this one is something that the likes of Brand New Sin or COC would kill for. It’s real "rattlesnake rock n' roll,” to paraphrase Blackfoot!
Tiny Devils
A unique epic guitar hook gives way to more blues-drenched metal here, with plenty of soloing to spice things up. The overall feeling is Black Label Society but some of the intricate guitar work almost brings metalcore to mind. It’s an unusual track that won't appeal to everybody.
Kingdoms Wide
The longest track on show, this is virtually all-out Southern rock and seems to be from a different band than the one who blasted through "Stab the King.” It's got authentic grit, but (to me) it drags a little long and loses a lot of its force. The chorus is far from the band's best.
Almost Dead
This is the first of 3 tracks from Southview's previous Chaos of Ecstasy EP that brings the album to a close. This can probably be considered their defining song and would be a terrific choice for a single. Hard, fast and aggressive, this really sticks in your head with memorable riffs, smoking twin guitar solos and vocal hooks. I definitely think this would go far on metal radio!
Killing Bed
This slower, stomping cut is a great bluesy rocker with a lot of "whiskey and diesel" feeling. Be sure to catch the awesome surging power riff that follows the melancholy chorus. This is killer stuff and ranks with the best of any band in American metal.
This one's got a ton of thrashy intensity to it and more of that trademark Southview double guitar attack, along with swift drum and bass interplay. I wonder if the lyrics are inspired by the classic "Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” It surely relates the corruption of "gold fever.” This is a strong closer to an above-average indy metal album.
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