The Formative Years – Rocket from the Crypt
Given that it was released on Nemesis Records, I ordered the first Pitchfork album blindly and while it did not exactly blow my mind – mainly due to the rhythm section - I liked the way the songs were written, the interesting guitar lines and vocals enough to not be deterred from checking out the debut LP that the songwriter released with his new outfit Rocket from the Crypt in the early 1990s.
The album “Paint as a fragrance” won me over straight away with its charmingly noisy ditties, which were full of heart and soul yet still packed a punch. Learning shortly after about the fact that Rocket from the Crypt had a release on one of my favourite record labels, i.e. Pusmort records, sealed the deal for me and I started collecting whatever bore the RFTC logo.
An array of 7” releases followed (which were later on compiled and released as the “All systems go” compilation album) and eventually their second album “Circa: Now” was released, which saw RFTC refine its ballsy melange of hardcore, punk, garage and grunge with the addition of what should later on be expanded and became their trademark, i.e. the usage of a saxophone and mini horn section, which they used diligently to add punchiness to their already riveting riffs.
So far, so good.
With not only the underground but also a mainstream audience having caught on and given my purist juvenile delinquent absolutism, I was convinced that I was going to lose one of “my” bands with their first major label release in 1995.
However, things could have not turned out more differently. Having collected and loved almost all of their previous releases, “Scream, Dracula, Scream!” topped it all.
A near flawless juggernaut of an album that has made me smile literally every time I have listened to it. Again, RFTC skims the cream of the crop of rock, punk, soul, grunge, alternative, garage rock and pop sensibility, throws it into a blender and infuses it with their very own delicious flavour. The result is a nuanced tour de force of catchiness that grooves yet does not lack aggression. A great mix of aggression, horns, showmanship and a whole bag of fun. It is a shame that the label did not allow the album to be released as the band had intended, i.e. as a cohesive monolith of music, however, “Scream, Dracula, Scream!” progressed what had become pretty stale and standardized punk formulae to something refreshingly new and exciting by drawing on the essence and finer parts of the very styles that initially spawned the genre.
I managed to get to see them on their supporting tour a couple of times in 1996 and each incarnation was a fantastic experience as the natural charisma fuelled by the unbridled enthusiastic of front man par excellence and raconteur John Reis and his worthy constituents was only amplified by their stage antics, which included a male cheerleader, variété and designated segments for audience interaction.
What might sound cheesy on paper and an oxymoron to what was standard practice within punk and hardcore circles, totally worked as RFTC channelled their alchemy in a manner that disarmed even the most snobbish hardcore purist and their unrivalled tight delivery got everyone in attendance moving.
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