By: Eric G.
If you’ve been missing Drive Like Jehu like I have, then you will be ecstatic to find out that Hot Snakes reunites John Reis (also from Rocket From The Crypt) and Rick Fork, the respective guitarist and vocalist for that seminal early nineties band. Filling out the trio is Mule and Delta 72 drummer Jason Kourkounis, and the band picks up right where Drive Like Jehu left off with bombastic rhythms, huge guitars, and shredding vocals. Hot Snakes has a bit more early punk bluster than Drive Like Jehu’s paranoid assault, but the sound is at once invigorating and familiar.
This band claims to be the salvation for those feeling cheated and dismayed by the current trend of sappy punk, and it is no lie. Automatic Midnight is a tour de force. Fork’s vocals complement Reis’ noisy guitar architecture perfectly. Even when the guitars are clean they storm through the speakers behind thundering percussion. Reis and Fork go way back even before Drive Like Jehu to the days of Pitchfork, so their chemistry is intrinsic from years of musicianship. The San Diego punk scene has been dormant for a few years, but Hot Snakes should blow the doors back wide open.
Automatic Midnight is the type of record you call your friends and tell them to run to the record store to buy without any doubt that they will love it. When a band lists influences like early Black Flag, Suicide, and Sonic Youth, it’s a lot to live up to, but Hot Snakes carries the burden without even flinching. With Rocket From The Crypt having played out its hand, Reis sounds rejuvenated here, especially on “Mystery Boy”, the track on which he handles lead vocals. This record rocks, and I’ve got it turned up as loud as it will go.