The Tug Fork River Band - Vulture

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Band: The Tug Fork River Band
Title: Vulture
Label: Self-Released
Release Date: 03/20/2012
Reviewer: Fallon Braddy

Tracklisting: 

  1. Ex Wives
  2. Breezes Through Treezes
  3. Piggly Wiggly
  4. Carne Diem
  5. Han Shot First

I must start this review by saying that I am not typically a fan of ANY kind of southern-style genre of rock. From Lynrd Skynrd to Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, I just find the southern spice on any rock-oriented genre to be obnoxious or just plain bad sounding. With that being said, I’m happy to say that The Tug Fork River Band has managed to open up some room in my heart to hear out any future southern metalcore acts with their self-released Vulture EP.

A fresh new band to my ears, The Tug Fork River Band gets right down to business with the opening track, “Ex Wives”. It screams southern before the vocals even come in, with the crash of thunder preceding the main riff accompanied by a cowbell, bring in the drums and bass, then a howl by lead vocalist Aaron Quinn; from here on the album is a runaway train of home-cooked riffage and forward-driving aggression. The recurring southern elements are incredibly apparent, but the metalcore influence poured into the musicality of The Tug Fork River Band’s sound is not to be overlooked for a second. They naturally integrate a heavier metalcore influence with vicious, low-end growls (there’s at least one “eeee-yo” in there, before a breakdown in “Breezes Through Treezes”, I believe) while keeping it upbeat with plenty of creative “-core” drum fills and thrashy riffs. Semi-clean vocals (just imagine Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter mixed with Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage with a dirty southern accent) are used mostly for the choruses in an attempt to pull out more melody within the songs. While I entirely prefer these vocals over the feminine cleans most mainstream metalcore bands take a liking to, I gotta say I would prefer the growls and screams instead. The cleans are a bit too twangy (or something along those lines), sharing the annoyances of typical southern-rock genres I usually have. Some may enjoy the switch-up, I just found it unnecessary.

Lyrically, I was rather impressed and inspired by the creative usage of imagery and in communicating the seemingly over-done topic of corrupt first-world Christianity. The line “We build the tallest steeples and forget all the people” in the song “Ex Wives” really seemed to speak to how aesthetically focused the church is (and seems to have been for hundreds of years). The EP is well-centered around removing the sell-out modern church and repenting to give Christ back the crown we’ve claimed “in His name”. You’ll find no beating around the bush when it comes to The Tug Fork River Band’s message and focus as a group in seeking freedom in Lord and demoting the cruelty of mankind’s selfishness.

Overall:  The Tug Fork River Band is the perfect blend of southern-metalcore spice and hardcore aggression and passion. They embrace the cliche signatures of the former to keep the songs upbeat and fun while integrating the depth of the latter to make this EP worth listening to, no matter what sub-genre of heavy music you may be accustomed to. While some of the clean vocals can create annoyances, they’re worth bearing through to get a feel for the band. The TFR Band aims to make a meaningful impression with Vulture, upholding a relevance beyond musicality. The last line of the five-song EP sums it up quite well: “I’d rather fight a war with purpose than live with meaningless peace.”

RIYL: Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, The Showdown, Messengers