Snakehandler Church: Cheap Heat
'Pure adrenaline-soaked revival'
Pete Dio has lived quite a few musical lifetimes over the years: touring the world with Left Lane Cruiser and stepping out from behind the drum set and forming Pete Dio and the Old & Dirty. Both projects had a southern flair to them, with LLC taking two-man dirty blues to a new level, while Old & Dirty has Dio front and center, strumming an acoustic guitar to jangly Americana and southern bluegrass.
But with Dio’s latest project, the southern-tinged punk trio Snakehandler Church, Dio (guitar/vocals), Drew Snyder (bass), and Matt Belcher (drums) plow through punk/metal riffs like they’re on a mission to seek and destroy. Doom punk that has as much in common with Supersuckers as it does with Power Trip, the five-song Cheap Heat is a pure adrenaline-soaked revival.
Five songs, you’re in and out. Snakehandler Church waste no time getting to the pummeling on their debut EP. They build this image of the southern pastor preaching fire and brimstone on the backbone of sludgy doom, but the speed is bumped from 33⅓ to 45 rpm.
The opener “Testimonial” opens with a pastor speaking over doom-laden noise and I can almost picture Robert Mitchum from Night of the Hunter, complete with “Love” and “Hate” tattoos on his fingers. But then “Drones of Jehova” comes roaring in like a dragster from hell, complete with punk rock speed and Dio’s blood-curdling vocals. You can tell there’s an even slice of hardcore, speed metal, and doom influences here, whereas “Aged Out” takes its cue from classic hardcore punk.
“Burn and Bleed” has a nice crunch to it and more of a swing than a pedal-to-the-metal tempo. “Kayfabe” reminds us this is a Snakehandler Church album and trashes the place before they kick down the front door, pile into the rusted Ford pickup out front, and do wheelies in the front yard as they head to the next kegger.
Snakehandler Church bring the goods on Cheap Heat. It’s a roaring cyclone of razor sharp riffs, caffeinated drum fits, and just the right amount of levity to keep things from going full speed metal death trip. Amen.