The Bohannons new album, Unaka Rising is a real scorcher. It’s an odd thing to say about a band, but their approach to music makes so much sense that it’s difficult to understand why their particular cocktail of heavy Southern rock jangle hasn’t already been done to death by someone else.
Pantera billed themselves as “Cowboys From Hell,” which sounds appealing on paper, but of course, that came with a degree of 1980s glam and kitsch that sort of negates the “Cowboy” part. Not to knock Pantera or stick The Bohannons with the label that Pantera invented but didn’t really live up to, but that phrase creates an itch to hear the Southern Gothic aesthetic injected into some serious hard rock.
A little Two Gallants, a little Black Sabbath, they’re as heavy as they are twangy. They manage their heaviness without venturing into melodrama, which is difficult for many artists that venture into darker territory. Their music begs to serve as a soundtrack to a genre of film that doesn’t currently exist—some kind of violent, stylized-but-gritty (a la Tarantino) Southern road movie patterned after the classic Western model.
Not to say that the whole record is overcast with darkness—certainly tracks like “Tim Tim” are more lighthearted rodeo rock than twangy doom metal. They picked a good first track—“Goodbye Bill” is a kicker-offer if I’ve ever heard one.
The Bohannons are Tennessee natives, and “Unaka” refers to the region in and around the Unaka mountain range on the Tennessee/North Carolina border.