Hot Snakes: Suicide Invoice (Swami Records)

Hot Snakes show a wide range of emotional grandstanding, everything from love, hate, to indifference.

Let’s face it: aggression and isolation are pretty commonplace within music today. It’s become incredibly difficult to turn on the radio and not hear a hard rockin’ band with angst-ridden vocals. We have become so accustomed to this sound that we don’t really hear it anymore—and this isn’t always a bad thing. Because when something offbeat, brazen, electrifying, and just plain good comes along, we truly hear it. Sometimes it’s the best thing in the world.

This is the case with Hot Snakes’ sophomore effort, Suicide Invoice. Don’t get me wrong, Hot Snakes have a hard garage-rock type of sound, but they also have style. John Reis’ guitar attacks every song, providing the heart, and Rick Froberg’s vocals howls though every word, providing soul. This is how rock ’n’ roll should be.

Suicide Invoice is more somber and moodier than the Snakes’ debut album, Automatic Midnight; some may even say it’s mellower. “Why Does it Hurt” is about damaged love and how it affects everyone involved; “Unlisted” is a kiss-off to society in general, disguised as a pop song. Even the title track is slightly more vulnerable and melodic than past anthems. When Froberg proclaims, “When I dream, I keep my promises to you. I really do,” it seems so exposed that you almost want to believe him.

There are several songs reminiscent of the band’s raw, biting sound heard on the previous release. “Gar Forgets his Insulin” and “I Hate the Kids” have the rage-filled, fist-clenched tone that the band has become famous for. “Who Died” is a diatribe about how no one notices you’re gone—and how they’re glad it wasn’t them. Also, there are some charming tunes about the wonders of aerodynamics and the joy of paperwork, the latter’s message being that everyone has something to gain off paperwork except for you.

Hot Snakes are a rock band in every sense of the word. They punch you in the stomach, then pick you up and dust you off for more. With Automatic Midnight the band scratched the surface and showed their prowess. On Suicide Invoice, Hot Snakes dig much deeper and show they are more than just awesome, booming guitar chords. Hot Snakes show a wide range of emotional grandstanding, everything from love, hate, to indifference. Rock bands of the word take note: there’s more to the equation than aggression and isolation. Hot Snakes have seemed to discover the other variables and they aren’t sharing.

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