By Zachary McCollum
BU News Service
“Jericho Sirens” is Hot Snakes’ fourth full-length output and their first in 14 years since their thrasher “Audit in Progress.”
It is somewhat of comeback album that fits right in with their brand new label Sub Pop Records’ eclectic discography.
Hot Snakes is an American rock band hailing from San Diego, California. The band, which rose from the ashes of punk heavyweights Rocket from the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu, was formed back in 1999 by Rick Froberg and John Reis. Hot Snakes plays in vein of its predecessors, borrowing a punk and garage rock sensibility from Rocket from the Crypt and blending it with the post-hardcore grit and grind of Drive Like Jehu.
Comeback albums can often be stale shells of musicians’ former selves, but “Jericho Sirens” certainly does not live up to that stigma. The record is the Hot Snakes you know with an all new flare. Rick Froberg’s vocals are as powerful as ever and come through with increasing intensity as the album progresses.
The album manages to maintain a somewhat ominous tone without sacrificing its power and speed. The opening track “I Need a Doctor” kicks in with a menacing guitar riff before driving into a gripping punk beat with a Strokes-esque lead.
This more post-punky/garage rock sound carries through to tracks like “Six-Wave Hold Down” and “Death Camp Fantasy,” while mixing in some desert rock elements borrowed from bands such as Kyuss and Fu Manchu.
The title track is the crown jewel of the album, coming in with a creeping blues rock riff comparable to something like Brand New’s “451” or some early The Black Keys. The track then segways into a bruting floor tom beat to pair perfectly with Froberg’s punk rock snarl.
The lyrical content in “Jericho Sirens” is incredibly dark, often centering around themes of death and pain. This is not only evident deep beneath the surface, but can also be noted on the track listing with titles such as “Death Camp Fantasy,” “Death Doula,” and “Death of a Sportsman.”
Overall, “Jericho Sirens” is Hot Snakes’ most interesting and gritty album to date. Although it maybe slightly polished on the production end, the Hot Snakes grit and grind mentality could never be sacrificed. Perhaps a Hot Snakes record could never live up to the likes of Drive Like Jehu, but the band never fails on its consistency.