Record Review - 3 August 07 2002

The product of alumni from Drive Like Jehu, Rocket From the Crypt and Delta 72, Hot Snakes' second full-length, Suicide Invoice, surpasses its members' history by leaps and bounds. Hot Snakes take the tired old tools of punk and dirty garage rock and give them a sense of relevance they haven't had in years.

John Reis (vocals/guitar), Rick Froberg (vocals/guitar) and Gar Wood (bass) build tension around minimal chords that swell to clashing crescendos but never impede the flow. Jsinclair's unyielding drums provide the framework for each song as Reis' flat vocals derive power from a deadpan delivery. The whole thing comes together in the shadow of a slightly detectable lo-fi grit.

Themes of tortured existentialism run rampant through "I Hate Kids," "Who Died" and the title track. Hazy anthems are loosely strung together in way that makes the concepts easy to gloss over during passive listens, but that may require an English degree to be fully grasped.

"Ben Gurion" brings the album to a close with a bit of trivia that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated. But even for those uneducated in Israeli history, the sheer intensity of the song may instill a desire to brush up your academic skills.Hot Snakes play The Earl Tues., Aug 13.