Death Takes a Holiday in the Ancient Land of Big Giant Riffs


The title cut on the Black-Eyed Snakes’ Rise Up! manages to simultaneously pound you down and lift you up, like a cross between Living Things’ “Bombs Below” and Black Flag’s “Rise Above”—though if anything, “Rise Up!” is the one that slugs hardest.

It’s sung through a filter, so I can’t really make out who’s supposed to be rising over whom, but since Day of the Dead skeletons parade across the album cover, maybe they’re the ones on the rise. The music emerges from primordial late-’60s Blue Cheer proto-metal, an ancient land of giant riffs and drum ‘n’ bash. Unfortunately, the rest of the LP is true to its actual home in present-day noise bohemia, so despite being a viscerally effective mix of blues skronk and rock ‘n’ roll, it’s as feckless and distant as most other indie rock. I’m used to this: the musical vocabulary dying in our hands yet then, momentarily, inexplicably, returning to life. Indie rock has been suffering from dry rot for more than two decades, but this has been an OK year for it. You never know.