• 9/10
    SOUTHERN GENTLEMEN - Valley Of Fire - 9/10


Leviathan Records
Release date: May 20, 2008

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

If you haven’t heard any of the three previous releases by Southern Gentlemen, the thinking behind the scene might go something like this: “Oh great, another Southern Rock band trying to make a name for themselves and compete with the Allman Brothers Band, ZZ Top, the Outlaws, Gov’t Mule, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Charlie Daniels Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet, and countless others.” One listen to the new Valley Of Fire release will prove that to be a completely inaccurate conception, all truth be told.

These guys claim that their music is a Hard Rock/Blues/Metal combination, something new to the genre that hasn’t been done before. Like that hasn’t been said and tried a hundred times before. Well, in all honesty, no holds barred, laying it on the line, these guys from Southern Gentlemen not only talk-the-talk but walk-the-walk, head and shoulders above the rest of the newcomers and wannabes.

Wow, this album kicks some major ass. It definitely has Hard Rock, Blues, and Metal carefully integrated within each other in such a way that one doesn’t overpower the other and take away from the final effort. The band is made up of some very talented musicians: David T. Chastain (band’s founder, guitarist on all 4 CD’s, original vocalist, record label owner – that helps); Eric Johns (vocalist); Dave Swart (bassist); and Mike Haid (drummer). This line-up was kept intact due to the fact that they really clicked on their 3rd release titled Third Time Is The Charm, and since they all have the necessary Metal background, they wanted the final product to be much heavier with a somewhat “Live” sound to it.

The band seemed blown away by the finished product this time around. What made it so special, or at least contributed to its ultimate sound was the fact that it was mixed and mastered by engineer and Metal maestro Christian Schmid at the Music Factory in Germany. He did the same for the band’s last album. The hardest thing perhaps that the band had to overcome was having Eric make a concerted effort to tone down his powerful voice (perfectly suited for Metal and Hard Rock) and keep it sounding “Blues-based” to keep it centered around the band’s core beliefs.

The music definitely has Hard Rock, Blues, and Metal influences in varying degrees in just about every track — in a very lethal combination at that. The opening song and title track “Valley Of Fire” is a killer and heavy as hell. Every track on here is good at eliminating the use of the all so common skip button. The powerhouse rhythm section of Dave’s bottom-end and Mike’s drumming is the foundation that gives Southern Gentlemen their hard-edged sound, in turn giving them an advantage over other Southern Rock bands trying to make it in today’s music scene.

With their 3rd release Southern Gentlemen was hoping to open the minds and ears of music fans unaccustomed to their music. David T. Chastain hoped to strike a chord with the masses since no one else was doing anything original in the genre. If that wasn’t accomplished with Third Time Is The Charm, then Valley Of Fire will certainly open the eyes of almost anyone willing to listen to this intense and invigorating release. It doesn’t let up from the moment it starts until it ends. After hearing it for the first time, it’ll leave an impression without a doubt. Give it a try and don’t let the name of the band fool you. In no time at all, you will be looking into the other three releases.


  • George Fustos

    George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has engineering degrees in Chemical and Electrical Engineering. He favors Metal, Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues, and even some Jazz and Motown (depending on the tune). He used to dabble with the bass quite some time ago. His most influential bassists are Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, and John Entwistle (RIP Ox). Band-wise he's really into Rush, Tool, early Metallica, Pink Floyd (including Waters and Gilmour as solo artists), The Who, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Halford, Joe Satriani, certain Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins (Blues guitarist), Motörhead, and a German band called Skew Siskin that Lemmy says in an interview as being "the best band out there today."

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