Review Summary: Do it one more time for me.
Back in the early 90s, The Reverend Horton Heat were dropping one classic album after another. They were all you need for an awesome party. All those 'psychobilly freakouts' that were essentially rock 'n' roll mixed with punk, country and surf rock, constantly kept everyone dancing and interested into the band. Plus, it seemed as if nothing could stop them; their shows were manic, everyone was dead drunk both on and off stage and never missed a beat while playing those jaw-dropping tunes that sound as good today as 20 years ago. However, by the end of the decade, the guys started to feel burnt out and since the early 00s their efforts have been quite hit and miss. Lucky 7
and Laughin' and Cryin'
often felt bloated or were simply trying to squeeze some jams that just didn't bring anything new or even refreshing to the table. Only 2004's Revival
was a pretty solid blend of some mid-tempo alternative rock stuff and their signature sound, that brought some actual grooves back into the repertoire.
Fortunately, the latest output, Rev
, comes after a five-year gap, featuring some of that energy and slick songwriting that was all over the early records. Even though none of the tracks here will become classics any time soon, this Reverend produced album is the tightest in quite a while. There's the usual blend of genres, but more importantly, the band sounds reinvigorated and eager to play. Starting with the cool, waves defying 'Victory Lap', that bounces from classic tremolo chords to sharp surf guitar riffing, things quickly build up to the manic fretwork found on the lovely 'Smell Of Gasoline'. It's moments like these that show the Rev can still churn strong tunes whenever they feel in the right mood. The fun continues with the catchy rockabilly of 'Never Gonna Stop It' and 'Spooky Boots'. Both are examples of how tight the band have gotten after all these years and now well they have aged. They play the hell out of each note and, frankly, no one does it better nowadays in the genre. This is why people don't necessarily want them to explore new paths or take unwanted detours, they just want these guys to jam like they used to.
Although the second half slows things down a bit, songs like 'Mad Mad Heart', 'Longest Gonest Man' or 'Chasing Rainbows' keep things in motion with some swing and country influences. The latter's also evident in the steady yet enjoyable, 'Hardscrabble Woman', which could've easily been recorded into an obscure Southern bar late at night. The remaining tracks are anything but filler. Since Reverend started so strong back in the day, thus raising the bar really high right from the beginning, even the dullest moments have that something to keep the listener at least slightly interested. Luckily, the return to the straightforward, breathless riffing is what makes Rev
such a nice listen. Mostly a touring band rather than recording artists, these songs will surely play a lot better in a live setting, but the album successfully captures once more the essence of The Reverend Horton Heat.