This is Milwaukee’s Hot Coffins’ 2nd long player and they have had a major change in personnel for this record with the introduction of singer Chris Chuzles (ex- Disguised as Birds). The album itself is described as being heavier with a darker sound than its predecessor. I am not sure any of this matters though as I was unable to find the earlier release or much about Hot Coffin in their earlier phase. This leaves Hot Coffin in a good place, almost coming out as a new band and with it they are presenting this self-titled LP to help them gain some momentum – and what a whirlwind of a record this is.
It pretty hard to describe the Hot Coffin sound as it has a mixture of different styles contained within: rock, metal, punk, post punk, grunge could all be included within the tags. The delivery is breathless and the guys rattle through eight tracks in no time at all. Hot Coffin have been given a second chance to make mark and this is a band determined to take it and it has resulted in a cracker of an album.
There are two distinct elements that stand out instantly for me on Hot Coffin. The first is the style and quality of the songwriting and musicianship, and the second is Chris Chuzles’ voice. On paper they would seem to not match up. Musically we have eight tight songs, delivered with the speed and pace of a punk record but which actually includes a lot of elements of rock and metal. Take opener “Whistle, Hawk and Spit” for example. This has some dirtier grunge style elements to it but a lot of the playing is also what could perhaps be described as classic metal. The opening progressive riff is classic metal and when the vocals kick in with the drums and then an added guitar riff there is no other way to describe it. It is the lead guitar riffs through many of the songs that actually give the music an emotional edge and carry the songs very well. Chris Chuzler on the other hand has a very raw voice, that you would initially think of as a more grunge rock style, yet as the track progresses you come to realise that perhaps there is a touch more hardcore to the vocal style delivery. This riff-based metal with this raw punk style vocal somehow matches up very, very well and you have a blistering opening track that ends in a raw emotional crescendo.
“Hammer Throw” continues in similar vein. Once again you have that tremendous guitar riff really feeding the story into the music provided by Christian Hansen. The rest of the band are just as important though, they provide the real backbone of both the energy and tightness on this record. “Hammer Throw” is an addictive track, the riff combined with a sing along chorus is great. The vocals sit layered in with the playing which is a production style I like for this type of record.
“The Bait” is a standout track but this time it is the vocals which take the forefront. The band bash away at their instruments, keeping a fast pace throughout and adding a certain element of urgency to the song. The vocals are instantly a little clearer and delivered with a fast choppy pace with a call and reply verse. It is the “I can’t believe; I can’t believe” vocal sequence that will leave you with a lasting memory from this track though. They also employ another trick with this song which is to slow it down towards the end, to a nice rhythm before blasting back in.
“Salt Away” has a darker and slightly sludgy beginning, when the vocals are introduced they are sparser and less in your face than some of the earlier tracks. The pace of the song has that more sludge feel and doesn’t change much even when the catchier and punchier chorus is introduced. A middle bridge introduces a more understated guitar riff.
“False Positive” is a great little track that reminds me very much of Leeds Eagulls, a band I am a big fan of, so anything reminiscent of that style is always going to be a winner with me. It has very similar dynamics to an Eagulls track and vocally it is similar too, with the vocals again layered just below the music line. Final track “Ass to Ass” is a great way to conclude the album. At only 1 minute 46 seconds long, it bursts out of the speakers before having a melodic metal centre section full of emotion, a little bit like a come down after the excitement of the rest of the album. Don’t worry though, they fly to the end of the song and album.
With Hot Coffin the band can draw a line under what has gone before and consider this their D-Day. This is an album full of intent, delivered with much gust, energy and talent that you can’t help but love it for the little gem it is. It may be over before it has even really begun but it doesn’t really matter as you will soon be putting it back on to feel that excitement and energy once again.
Hot Coffin is due out on April 1st, 2016