Review Summary: Hot Snakes slow things down a tad on their second album, but the songs are all the more furious and compelling for it.
Chances are if you're listening to this album you're already familiar with John Reis and Rick Froberg. The former made a name for himself with garage rockers Rocket from the Crypt, and both blew out speakers in the seminal post-hardcore outfit Drive Like Jehu. Hot Snakes takes the dissonant riffing of Drive Like Jehu and combines it with the breakneck punch of Rocket from the Crypt, resulting in an album that's all lean, mean punk rock aggression.
Well, almost all. Compared to the other two Hot Snakes albums, there's more emotion to balance out the more aggressive numbers. "Gar Forgets His Insulin" for example is a wry jab at Gar Wood's condition, complete with a menacing bass rumble provided by the man himself. And "Paperwork" is a surprisingly restrained working man's rant against the man. But other tracks like "Why Does It Hurt?" and particularly the title track are just raw sincerity. When Froberg laments "and when I dream/I keep my promises to you/I really do" the lines will worm their way into your head and haunt you long after the album's over.
Opener "I Hate the Kids" however is full of as much rage as any song from their debut, bile dripping from each word Froberg rips from his throat as the rhythm section pounds holes in the pavement. These clashes of feeling are what make this album such a tense and exciting ride.
lies in the middle, not as experimental as Drive Like Jehu, nor as slickly produced as Rocket from the Crypt. But fans of both will definitely find something to love here, as will newcomers. Loud, abrasive, and at times brutally honest, Hot Snakes is one band you should not overlook.