by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
Jericho Sirens is the official return of punk super-group Hot Snakes after a decade long absence. Although everyone involved kept quite active in other bands during that period of time, including John Reis and Rick Froberg reconvening post-hardcore legends Drive Like Jehu for sporadic live dates, it’s a refreshing breath of air for fans to have some new Hot Snakes songs. This is also the first record to include the drumming of both Jason Kourkounis (who left after Suicide Invoice) and Mario Rubalcaba on the same album which is a treat as both bring completely different dynamics to the drum kit.
‘I Need a Doctor’ announces the return with dual guitars blaring away at your ears with power chords and razor sharp riffs before Froberg's menacing but familiar snarl cuts through the galloping fury. ‘Six Wave Hold-Down’ is a call to arms for action with Froberg forcefully imploring “Six Wave Hold-down/innocence is high/it’s not been enough /being pissed but idle/it ain’t enough/you get no points for style...’. It’s definitely one of the strongest moments on the record and it’s strength of message is one that should be heeded. The title track is one of the more chaotic songs on the record with wheezing keyboard and the rare background vocals. ‘Death Camp Fantasy’ even includes Froberg calling for vocal support from his band mates over a strutting bassline and finessed drum fills to great effect.
Hot Snakes have never really been much for musical abstraction or nuance as their discography has proven and Jericho Sirens follows accordingly. They have always made a point to be direct and forceful in all they do, and in that spirit I will try to keep it tight and simple as well. This record has been long awaited and they really haven’t missed a step since Audit in Progress, and maybe have even streamlined from that a bit. This is a kick you in the teeth straight up rock record that has been a rarity in recent music. These artists have learned a lot of tricks of the trade through their careers and have created a lively and inspiring record (with a few guest spots from old friends) that will make you feel like you just finished a few rounds in the ring and came out stronger for it.