Review Summary: It's a Psychobilly Freakout!
Reverend Horton Heat is a widely revered yet generally unknown “Pyschobilly” trio hailing from the depths of Dallas, Texas, who bring an interesting, unique twist of styles and influences to create a genre all of their own. Spanning equal parts influence of early rockabilly chickin’ pickin’ reminiscent of old school greats, and one of the original guitar heroes, Gary Moore to the aggressive, 70’s attitude tinged Punk Rock, Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
is a trip unlike anything before it that rarely fails to be at the very least an intriguing listen.
This is clearly the Reverend’s show as his break-neck fretwork is the centerpiece of the entirety of the album’s originally cohesive arrangement. Nowhere on Smoke 'Em if you got 'Em
is the aforementioned more apparent than on the impressive “Guitar Hero” video game hit, “Psychobilly Freakout,” where the Reverend rips through country licks with more than a hint of metal influence that would only be slightly out of place on a Necrophagist record. The track is one of the least vocal oriented and most impressive with seldom bits of enthusiastic lyrical chimes of “we’re off and we’re off!” and “it’s a Psychobilly Freakout!” The albums closing number “Love Whip” is deserving of mention as it closes the album with a satisfying resolution almost akin to that of a Quentin Tarantino film and contains some of the tastiest guitar playing throughout the entire record.
With that said, the Reverend shows very little bias and apprehension in hiding his heavy metal roots and influences as half the tracks feature dark, brooding up-tempo chord progression with lyrics spanning from coping with personal insanity on “It’s a Dark Day,” to indulging in the sticky green pasta on the infectious, toe tapping, apply named, “Marijuana.” The lyrics as well as their subject matter are light hearted enough to not detract from entertainment of the overall experience but do very little to elevate the music to anything other than a homage to the golden ages of rockabilly guitar focused Rock N’ Roll with an interesting kick.
Reverend Horton Heat is at their most appalling during the albums darkest and instrumental instances and their weakest during their predictable, uninspired country standards. Nevertheless, The Reverend’s guitar virtuosity is a wonder to behold and virtually essential listening for those seeking an original spin on a genre that has been around far longer than this reviewer.