The Southern Metal Thread

First Post June 13, 2022 09:07 PM

Ben & I have been tossing up over what to do about the whole "Southern Metal" thing for a long time now but our mutual ignorance around what the genre is & aspires to be has led to us making no move at all up until now. It certainly hasn't helps that Southern Metal sounds very much like something that neither of us will have much interest in. In order to finally get us to an outcome though, I've decided to commit the rest of my month to exploring the Southern Metal genre with an aim to answer a few key questions:


1. Is Southern Metal really a thing?

2. Does it have it's own consistently identifiable sound that differentiates it from other subgenres or is it more of a descriptor to throw on top of another subgenre?

3. Are there releases that are deserving of a sole Southern Metal genre tag? (i.e. unaccompanied by other primary genres)

4. Is Southern Metal really a subgenre of a pre-existing genre?

5. Does Southern Metal belong in The Fallen as it's description would lead us to believe?

6. Are there releases that belong to the Southern Metal genre that DON'T sit comfortably under The Fallen?

7. If so, how might we handle them in a way that makes sense from an holistic point of view?


The answers to each of these questions will hopefully give us enough information to make an informed decision on whether or not we bite the bullet & create a Southern Metal genre at the Academy or not. Wish me luck (& I suspect a bit of patience too) as I take in one release from each of the biggest Southern Metal players over the next couple of weeks & share my thoughts with you along the way. Feel free to add in your own two cents to give us some added ammunition too.

June 13, 2022 10:20 PM

Despite being responsible for programming Southern Metal as part of the Fallen playlist, I too have reservations about whether it is a thing and if it is, whether it is utilised correctly. I assumed it was a sludgy take on stoner metal with a bit of southern (US) flavour thrown in for good measure. When I see bands like Black Label Society and Alabama Thunderpussy so tagged, I seriously doubt if anyone really knows what it is! Most of the bands on the rym southern metal chart have zero sludge in their respective genre Venn diagram and some don't even have a metal genre other than southern metal. I always thought the sludge aspect was important as the likes of Eyehategod and Acid Bath are seen as influential to the whole southern metal thing. I suspect that, rather like NWOBHM, it is a scene rather than a genre, but I look forward to your ongoing reporting Daniel.

June 13, 2022 11:03 PM

1. Yes. Southern metal is a thing, with bands like Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Black Label Society, and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster.

2. It's Southern rock influences are much more prominent than other genres, so it's definitely identifiable and different.

3. Many of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster's releases for sure.

4. It's a descendant of Southern rock, but it stands out as its own genre.

5. I've mentioned this before, but Southern metal should have its own clan, The South. It has nothing to do with the traditional doom metal, gothic metal, and drone metal of the clan, and there are currently so many genres in that clan (5 genres). And because of Southern metal's relation with sludge metal and stoner metal, I think those two genres can be taken out of The Fallen and reside in The South as well.

6. Black Label Society and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster do NOT belong in The Fallen. Black Label Society is comfortable in its place in The Guardians for their heavy metal sound mixed with Southern metal that would get them in hypothetically The South.

7. That, of course, is where The South clan comes in.

So those are my answers based on my Southern metal knowledge (which isn't much, by the way), and I hope to have given you enough info, Daniel. Good luck and take it easy!

June 14, 2022 02:43 AM


1. Yes. Southern metal is a thing, with bands like Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Black Label Society, and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster.

2. It's Southern rock influences are much more prominent than other genres, so it's definitely identifiable and different.

3. Many of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster's releases for sure.

4. It's a descendant of Southern rock, but it stands out as its own genre.

5. I've mentioned this before, but Southern metal should have its own clan, The South. It has nothing to do with the traditional doom metal, gothic metal, and drone metal of the clan, and there are currently so many genres in that clan (5 genres). And because of Southern metal's relation with sludge metal and stoner metal, I think those two genres can be taken out of The Fallen and reside in The South as well.

6. Black Label Society and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster do NOT belong in The Fallen. Black Label Society is comfortable in its place in The Guardians for their heavy metal sound mixed with Southern metal that would get them in hypothetically The South.

7. That, of course, is where The South clan comes in.

So those are my answers based on my Southern metal knowledge (which isn't much, by the way), and I hope to have given you enough info, Daniel. Good luck and take it easy!

Quoted Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

Stoner and Sludge absolutely belong.in the Fallen Andi as their relationship to doom metal is fairly intrinsic. To create a new clan for what amounts to a single spurious sub genre sounds a bit much in itself, but.to then shoehorn two further genres that are perfectly well positioned would be ridiculous. 

June 14, 2022 03:26 AM

Yeah, I agree with you Sonny. Stoner & Sludge are not all that far away from being Doom subgenres & those three genres represent the very basis of The Fallen in all honesty.

My brief experiences with Southern Metal previously have seen me developing an inkling that there is a Southern Metal sound that people are referring to but it's only a very small deviation from the Stoner Metal model, is rarely represented in more than a few tunes per album & has nothing whatsoever to do with Sludge Metal. It's always seemed more like a descriptor than a genre to me. Time will tell as to whether that's true though as I've really only heard a few Southern Metal-tagged releases in full up until now.

June 15, 2022 12:20 PM

Down - "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow..." (2002)

I was previously well across the 1995 debut album "NOLA" from New Orleans supergroup Down & consider myself to be quite a fan but had never ventured further into the band's discography up until now. Given my familiarity with "NOLA" I felt it best to start fresh with the much anticipated sophomore record from Southern Metal's most celebrated act, a release that finally popped up a surprisingly long seven years later. Much like "NOLA", "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow..." is very much a mixed bag of different sounds & subgenres & I once again found myself being most interested in Down's more stripped back, psychedelic & metal-free material where front man Phil Anselmo gets to showcase his not insignificant vocal talents with a little more freedom. The quality is generally a bit up & down across the fifteen tracks which leaves the album falling well short of the bar set by its highly regarded predecessor but it was still an enjoyable enough listen.

As for the Southern Metal topic, this first leg of my experiment hasn't done much to alter my pre-existing opinions. Here's how I genre-tagged the tracklisting:


01. Lysergik Funeral Procession                                    Stoner Metal

02. There's Something on My Side                                Stoner Metal

03. The Man That Follows Hell                                      Southern Metal

04. Stained Glass Cross                                                  Southern Rock  

05. Ghosts Along the Mississippi                                  Stoner Metal

06. Learn From This Mistake                                          Blues Rock

07. Beautifully Depressed                                               Southern Metal

08. Where I'm Going                                                         Country Blues

09. Doobinterlude                                                             Psychedelic Rock

10. New Orleans Is a Dying Whore                                Sludge Metal

11. The Seed                                                                     Stoner Metal

12. Lies, I Don't Know What They Say But...                 Blues Rock

13. Flambeaux's Jamming With St. Aug                       Experimental Rock

14. Dog Tired                                                                     Stoner Metal

15. Landing on the Mountains of Meggido                  Psychedelic Rock


As you can see, there are only a couple of tracks that push the Southern Metal sound above all other subgenres but even then the difference from your classic Stoner Metal model isn't significant enough to require its own genre in my opinion. It's really the inclusion of a whole slew of bluesy, Southern inspired non-metal tracks that dictate the requirement for the Southern Metal tag rather than the album having an overall style that's dominated by the Southern Metal sound in all honesty. If we made the subgenre available on Metal Academy then I'd probably tag this album with both Stoner Metal & Southern Metal for that very reason but I don't see anything here that convinces me of the necessity for that additional tag at this stage. If we did go down that path though I'd suggest that it would be a subgenre of Stoner Metal on the evidence of this experience.

3.5/5


Here are the couple of tracks from the album that I feel best showcase the Southern Metal sound:



June 16, 2022 09:16 PM

Corrosion of Conformity - "Deliverance" (1994)

I was fairly well versed in Corrosion of Conformity's earlier material before going into their influential fourth album "Deliverance" which is widely regarded as the birth of the Southern Metal sound. I quite liked the crossover thrash of their 1985 sophomore album "Animosity" back in my tape trading days although I found the 1986 "Technocracy" E.P. to be pretty flat. 1991's third album "Blind" was all over underground metal radio at the time so I couldn't help but gain an affection for it's catchy sludge/heavy metal anthems & I even saw Corrosion of Conformity play live back in 2014 although I admittedly found them to be a little underwhelming after being thoroughly trampled by opening local act Lo! who were sensational. Let's just say that I was optimistic about the chances of "Deliverance" being able to win me over & was curious to see where the links to Southern Metal might have started.

As with the first two Down records, "Deliverance" offers a real mixed bag of sounds & subgenres. There's once again been a conscious effort to expand outside of the metal spectrum & I don't doubt that those efforts have seen people being more inclined to reach for the Southern Metal tag. But, unlike "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow...", "Deliverance" champions that true Southern Metal sound much more often than your more conventional Stoner Metal one & I've ended up being converted to the idea that this is indeed a Southern Metal record with no requirement for additional primary subgenres. The vocals of Pepper Keenan sound an awful lot like a Southern take on James Hetfield/Nick Holmes & play a big role in the Southern links. As do the guitar solos which have clearly been styled around the Lynard Skynard model. You do get a taste of a whole bunch of other metal/rock subgenres across the fourteen tracks but I have to admit that Southern Metal is the most common theme here so I'm gonna run with it. I still can't say that it's deserving of being a primary genre as it's still much too close to the Stoner Metal model but I'm definitely starting to be convinced that it's deserving of a differentiator.

Overall I found "Deliverance" to be pretty entertaining. I prefer "Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow..."  but it's not far behind. Both albums contain a few tracks that don't do much for me & I generally find myself more attracted to the sludgier/doomier tracks & the deeper, stripped back non-metal material. The genuine Southern Metal & Stoner songs just don't appeal to my taste as much.


01. Heaven's Not Overflowing        Stoner Rock

02. Albatross                                     Southern Metal

03. Clean My Wounds                      Alternative Metal

04. Without Wings                            Chamber Folk

05. Broken Man                                 Sludge Metal

06. SeƱor Limpio                               Southern Metal

07. Mano de Mono                           Gothic Country

08. Seven Days                                  Southern Metal

09. #2121313                                    Art Rock

10. My Grain                                       Southern Metal

11. Deliverance                                  Southern Metal

12. Shake Like You                            Heavy Metal

13. Shelter                                          Country

14. Pearls Before Swine                   Doom Metal


3.5/5


Here's a classic example of the Southern metal sound & arguably the track that started the whole movement:



June 17, 2022 08:57 PM

Black Label Society - "Mafia" (2005)

Now this brings me to the final member of the big three Southern Metal bands in the Zakk Wylde-fronted Black Label Society, a band that I've had very limited exposure to over the years with the exception of seeing them perform live at Soundwave 2012 in Sydney which was essentially one long (admittedly very impressive) super-shredding Zakk guitar solo. I came in very interested to check out BLS's sound given that they are the first artist in the experiment that doesn't also command additional The Fallen primary genre-tags along with the Southern Metal one so I wanted to see whether they'd cause us any problems & I have to say that "Mafia" (Black Label Society's most well-known release) certainly throws a cat amongst the pigeons in that regard. You see, "Mafia" wasn't at all what I expected, at least not in relation to this deep-dive exercise. There is absolutely none of the Southern Metal sound I've previously identified on the two Down & Corrosion of Conformity albums here. In fact, I'll be fucked if I can hear any Southern Rock influence on this album whatsoever! It's pretty much a traditional Heavy Metal record with a few Groove Metal & Hard Rock moments thrown in here & there. The only reason I can see for the link to Southern Metal is the inclusion of a few crappy Country tracks which don't really have much to do with my understanding of Southern Rock. If the Southern Metal sound is supposedly linked to Stoner Metal & Sludge Metal then there's no sign of either of those genres here. You do often see Southern Metal being linked to Groove Metal on some online sites but this begs the question as to whether the whole Southern Metal tag is being incorrectly used as more of a tool for grouping bands that come from a particular region. In saying that though, Black Label Society are from Los Angeles & Zakk is from New Jersey so I'd suggest that it's more about his image than anything else.

So let's actually take a deeper look at the music that actually IS here then, shall we? Most of the material isn't too far removed from the traditional Heavy Metal of Zakk's work with Ozzy Osbourne & highlights his chunky, super-charged metal riffs & signature artificial harmonic squeals. His lead work is obviously the highlight of the album but that was always going to be the case. His vocals are interesting as he sounds distinctly like he's trying to combine Guns 'n' Roses' Axl Rose & Alice In Chains' "Layne Stayley, complete with AIC vocal harmonies. In fact, there's a noticeable AIC influence across the album even though I wouldn't say that any of the tracks fall into the Grunge/Alternative Metal bucket. There are a couple of tracks that champion more of a Pantera/Hellyeah style Groove Metal riff structure too & the guitar tone in general leans more towards that genre than it does to the classic Heavy Metal one. The three ballads all fall into a poppy Country Rock space that's really very cheesy & ending the album with two of those was clearly a very poor idea (even if the God-awful final track is labelled as a bonus track I tend to think that it needs to be regarded as an album track given that the vast majority of versions of the album include it). In fact, the record really does peter out after a very promising start.

When I look at "Mafia" overall I can see that about a third of the fifteen tracks really float my boat with their thick, bottom-heavy, riff-based metal assault, particularly the clear album highlight in Heavy Metal monster "Death March". Another third is comprised of some pretty decent & respectable metal tunes that probably don't possess the hooks to dig their teeth in too far. And then the last third is comprised of material that I regard as obvious filler, most of which could easily have been left off the album given it's length. When looked at holistically it's the weakest of the three Southern Metal releases we've looked at so far but not by a significant margin. It's still a good listen even if it has fuck-all to do with Southern Metal as far as I can see. Perhaps this album is an anomaly in the BLS back-catalogue in that respect & the others are far more closely aligned with the Southern Rock influence I was expecting? I dunno but it certainly makes the rest of this experiment pretty interesting given that "Mafia" definitely doesn't belong in The Fallen.


Here's how I genre-tagged the individual tracks:


01. Fire It Up                                Heavy Metal

02. What's in You                        Groove Metal

03. Suicide Messiah                   Heavy Metal

04. Forever Down                        Heavy Metal

05. In This River                           Country

06. You Must Be Blind                Heavy Metal

07. Death March                          Heavy Metal

08. Dr. Octavia                              Hard Rock

09. Say What You Will                 Heavy Metal

10. Too Tough to Die                   Heavy Metal

11. Electric Hellfire                      Hard Rock

12. Spread Your Wing                 Heavy Metal

13. Been a Long Time                 Groove Metal

14. Dirt on the Grave                   Country Rock

15. I Never Dreamed                   Country Rock


3.5/5

June 18, 2022 04:31 PM

I'd wager that some of the lesser known bands achieve a purer southern metal sound, but even those are few and far between. I think the Polish band Death Denied fit the bill, but they're obviously not something to base your decision on.

June 18, 2022 08:26 PM

Pride & Glory - "Pride & Glory" (1994)

Zakk Wylde's one-off side-project with Black Label Society bass player James LoMenzo & future Whitesnake/Foreigner drummer Brain Tichy really does nothing to clear things up for me. It's obviously the most Southern inspired release of the four so far however it's also not a metal record with none of the fourteen individual tracks qualifying for metal status in my opinion. Instead it sits somewhere between Hard Rock & Southern Rock with far too much blues in their sound for the few heavier tracks to breach the confines of Hard Rock. There are definitely a few metal riffs thrown in here & there but every time that happens the songs are brought back into more commercial territory by some classic Hard Rock choruses or vocal hooks. In saying that though, I definitely prefer "Pride & Glory" to the Black Label Society record & would suggest that it just shaves the Corrosion of Conformity one too. Zakk's voice sounds great in this bluesier Southern style & often reminds me of my all-time favourite singer in Soundgarden's Chris Cornell. Check out the stunning album highlight that is Piano Rock ballad "Fadin' Away" for example with it's wonderful vocal harmonies & sentimental string arrangements. The album gets off to a very strong start with the A side being very impressive indeed. Unfortunately, much like a couple of the other releases I've explored during this expose so far, the B side contains a few light-weight & disposable Country & Southern Rock songs to ensure that I wouldn't be tempted to reach for my higher scores. Still... there's a lot of class in the majority of "Pride & Glory" so I can see why it's generally fairly highly regarded. If we were to include it on the Academy database I'd be recommending that it sits under Non-Metal though so it hasn't really helped me much in this process. In fact, I'm starting to wonder whether the Southern Metal tag was developed to cover the sound of a couple of bands (Down & Corrosion of Conformity) but was then completely misused by the market to describe anything that had even the slightest connection with a bluesier Southern sound instead of what it was originally intended to describe. There's also a strong chance that people have used it more from a locational point of view than anything musical. Hopefully I can come to an answer on that over the next week & a half.


Here's how I genre-tagged it:


01. Losin' Your Mind                   Southern/Hard Rock

02. Horse Called War                  Hard Rock

03. Shine On                                 Southern/Hard Rock

04. Lovin' Woman                        Southern Rock

05. Harvester of Pain                  Southern/Hard Rock

06. The Chosen One                    Hard Rock

07. Sweet Jesus                           Southern Rock

08. Troubled Wine                        Southern/Hard Rock

09. Machine Gun Man                 Southern Rock

10. Cry Me a River                        Country

11. Toe'n the Line                         Hard Rock

12. Found a Friend                       Blues Rock

13. Fadin' Away                             Piano Rock

14. Hate Your Guts                       Country


3.5/5

June 18, 2022 10:09 PM


I'd wager that some of the lesser known bands achieve a purer southern metal sound, but even those are few and far between. I think the Polish band Death Denied fit the bill, but they're obviously not something to base your decision on.

Quoted Morpheus Kitami

Thanks for the tip. I'll add them to the list.

June 19, 2022 08:41 AM

Rebel Meets Rebel - "Rebel Meets Rebel" (2006)

Ok, so here we have another release that throws a major spanner in my previous position on the whole Southern metal thing & it comes in the form of a one-off collaboration album between Dimebag Darrel, Rex Brown & Vinny Paul from Pantera & old country singer David Allan Coe (who was in his 60's when the record was recorded). The album was always intended on being something that Dimebag described as a "country metal" record & that might not be all that far off the truth but it was also a pretty crap idea if the outcome is anything to go by & I don't think it would have been spared from being crucified if not for Dimebag's tragic death (in fact it may not have been released at all if not for the obvious cash-in factor). You see, the two elements really aren't very well combined here & Coe sounds positively awful at times. In fact, I often found myself reaching for comparisons with the ill-fated Metallica & Lou Reed collaboration which can't be a good thing now, can it? You'll easily be able to pick out a few classic Pantera groove metal riffs spread across the tracklisting along along with a significant amount of traditional heavy metal, a couple of hard rock numbers & some bits & piece of blues rock, Southern rock, speed metal & country but don't think you'll miss the Southern Metal component with this album as it's standing out front for all to see. It's just that it hasn't got the slightest bit to do with stoner or sludge metal which pretty much pooh-poohs my thoughts on Southern Metal being a subgenre of Stoner Metal in the Metal Academy database as this release doesn't belong anywhere near The Fallen. It should probably be in The Guardians & there's also an argument for it being in The Pit although I don't think it's consistently thrashy enough for that personally. Interestingly I find the three country tracks to be by far the best material on display which is definitely an indication of just how mismatched the vocals are with the metal instrumentation & I ultimately found "Rebel Meets Rebel" to be a chore to sit through.

Here are my genre-taggings:


01. Nothin' to Lose                           Speed Metal

02. Rebel Meets Rebel                     Southern/Heavy Metal

03. Cowboys Do More Dope           Southern/Groove metal

04. Panfilo                                          Flamenco/Country

05. Heart Worn Highway                  Southern/Heavy Metal

06. One Nite Stands                          Blues Rock/Hard Rock

07. Arizona Rivers                             Psychedelic Country

08. Get Outta My Life                       Southern/Groove Metal

09. Cherokee Cry                               Hard/Southern Rock

10. Time                                             Southern/Heavy Metal

11. No Compromise                         Southern/Groove Metal

12. N.Y.C. Streets                              Country Rock


2.5/5

June 20, 2022 11:29 AM

He Is Legend - "Suck Out The Poison" (2006)

OK, so who the fuck decided to cause my whole experiment to implode by including this particular record under the Southern Metal banner then?? It's tagged with dual genres on RYM under Hard Rock (17-0) & Southern Metal (6-0) yet I'll be fucked if it's anything like either of those. This is a Melodic Metalcore record with Post-Hardcore & Alternative Metal influences. There are a few riffs that would be similar to Stoner Metal if they had a more appropriate guitar tone as well as one or two Southern Rock inspired guitar licks but so the fuck what?? To claim the entire record as being Southern Metal on that basis is absolutely absurd & I get the distinct feeling that the tagging is based more around He Is Legend's home of residence being North Carolina than it does anything to do with sound or style. And don't even get me started on Hard Rock. There's not a second of it on here. "Suck Out The Poison" is not a bad record as far as Melodic Metalcore goes to be fair. It's just a touch inconsistent.

3.5/5

June 21, 2022 07:19 AM