• The Reverend Horton Heat - REV

    Released by: Victory Records
    Released on: January 21st, 2014.
    Purchase From Amazon

    The eleventh studio album and their first release in a good four years, The Reverend Horton Heat’s latest album, simply titled REV, is their first for Victory Records and a very welcome addition to their consistent, solid discography. The three piece band, made up of Jim Heath on guitar and vocals, Jimbo Williams on stand up bass and Scott Churillo on drums (back with the band after a stint with The Supersuckers) have delivered a red hot slab of twang banging goodness, forty-seven minutes of that pure, unfiltered rock n roll that made some of their earlier efforts instant classics. This time out, they’re not messing around. Having been at this for the better part of thirty years at this point, you might think that the band would be mellowing with age, but this latest effort is as fast and as rowdy as almost anything else in their discography.

    It might have taken four years to get it to us, but REV was absolutely worth the wait.

    The thirteen tracks that make up REV are:

    Victory Lap / Smell Of Gasoline / Never Gonna Stop It / Zombie Dumb / Spooky Boots / Schizoid / Scenery Going By / My Hat / Let Me Teach You How to Eat / Mad, Mad Heart / Longest Gonest Man / Hardscrabble Woman / Chasing Rainbows

    Victory Lap starts us off instrumental style, conjuring pleasant memories of Big Sky, the opener to the classic Liquor In The Front album, and that’s a very good thing indeed. The guitars start out on their own but shortly after Jimbo’s bass and Churillo’s drums catch up and keep time, all of which leads into Smell Of Gasoline, which is just over four minutes’ worth of the kinda music your momma warned you about. As Heath sings and shrieks about a love affair at the age of seventeen, we learn all about how Betty, who liked the smell of gasoline, went on to bring him nothing but trouble. The song is fast and catchy and the solo that Heath kicks out would leave blisters on the fingers of lesser men.

    Never Gonna Stop It opens with a fantastic riff, pounding drums and Heath’s infectious shrieks of ‘ROCK N ROLL’ before the first verse kicks in. From here on out, your foot will tap, your fist might pump and you’ll be singing along to the chorus in no time. It’s a call to arms, a love letter to the kind of music that this trio does so well and which obviously matters so much to them – and it’s fucking great. Some eerie groaning opens Zombie Dumb before Heath utters ‘uh oh…’ and the music kicks in. ‘Zombie Dumb’ is uttered in between ‘huh ha galloooooo’ type noises overtop of some slick picking surf guitar madness. No real lyrics here, just good, goofy zombie type noises and some beautiful guitar work, the kind that makes you want to chug a beer and shake your ass.

    Moving right along, up next is Spooky Boots, a track that Victory put out early by way of a stream on the Billboard website here (which also includes a great story from Jim about the true story behind this particular track). It’s easy to see why they’d use this track to promote the album as it’s everything you’d want from the band. A catchy guitar heavy intro leads into a slightly bluesier track than what the earlier tracks have offered. Jim croons on about a girl named Spooky Boots from Santa Fe and her unexpected midnight departure from some poor bastard’s life. It’s a song about broken hearts, about longing and about the lengths that men will go to for a shot with certain members of the fairer sex. It’s a got a slightly otherworldly feel to it, as a song with a title like Spooky Boots should, and it’s got a great mid-tempo guitar solo in it just past the half way mark that just might bring a tear to your eye.

    Schizoid gets things back on track in that it dials up the speed and gets the vocals back into a more aggressive frame. It’s a little angrier than anything else on the album, Heath belts it out fast and uses the power of a great riff to anchor the track, Jimbo and Scott contributing some seriously slick speed fueled backing to really make this one stand out. Scenery Going By puts the twang back into the band’s sound, a slow intro quickly giving way to some of the fastest playing on the album. Heath sings here about life on the road, the toils and tribulations of a working band’s life. Churillo’s drumming really stands out here, dude is just fast and he doesn’t miss a beat. My Hat is a straight up traditional rockabilly track about getting ‘my hat handed to me.’ It’s a bad luck song that wisely mixes Jimbo’s bass up higher in the mix to nice effect while still letting Heath’s guitar skills shine.

    Let Me Teach You How to Eat was the first track that Victory put out to promote this album and it’s easy to see why (check out the video at the bottom of this review for a free sample and lots of sexy ladies). It’s got the double entendre thing going on that the band has deftly borrowed from many of their predecessors (The Cramps being the best example), so it fits expectations in that regard but it’s also super catchy and really just fast and heavy, not in the metal way but in the way that the band layers their sound here. There’s some clever stop/start maneuvering here that gives the playing a bit more punch, but when they decide to go full tilt, the song just shreds.

    Mad, Mad Heart slows things down and goes back to some more traditional rockabilly, some killer gang vocals calling back to Heath’s lead vocals and some killer guitar noodling giving this some serious roots rock sensibilities. It’s also kind of a sweet, a love song really, but just try not to shake it when this one comes on – you probably can’t do it. Longest Gonest Man keeps that traditional rockabilly sound going, it follows up Mad, Mad Heart really nicely. It’s not quite as infectious as the last track but it’s no less fun and no less infectious. Coming to a close we get Hardscrabble Woman is as close to old school country as we get on this album as Jim sings about a tough living lady, the kind who can lay pipe in the hard Texas dirt and who always wears jeans, you’ll never see her in a skirt. The band really conjures up that Johnny Cash ‘boom chikka boom’ sound on this track, which inevitably leads into Chasing Rainbows, the album closer. Once again, the band cranks up the volume and the speed dial, ending REV with a four minute attack. Heath’s vocals croon with just enough of a hint of desperation so that when he says ‘I for one will always love you’ you get the impression that he’s pulling it from somewhere inside and that he means. But once the chorus kicks in and the bass and the drums start to break the speed limit and the guitars get more and more aggressive, that whole ‘sad guy with a broken heart’ angle the band has been playing off gives way to a musical release of pent up frustration. This song will make you want to smash your bottle of Shiner on the table and start a fight! And if that’s not high praise, well, the fact that this album leaves you wanting more and is absolutely worth listening to multiple times in the same sitting is. REV is the best thing that Heath and company have put out in well over a decade – there’s truly not a weak track on it.

    Check out the video for the lead single, Let Me Teach You How To Eat, below!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Looking forward to this one. Laughin' and Cryin' with the Reverend Horton Heat was horrible, sounds like he's getting back in order on this one.